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Wandering through drawing's trace

posted on 17.09.2019, 08:15 by Deborah HartyDeborah Harty
Da Vinci said: “A line is made by the movement of a point … the point may be compared to an instant in time, and the line may be likened to the length of a certain quantity of time …” From mark to line, a line that wanders across the surface through time in rhythm with our bodily incarnate. We are necessarily situated in the here and now, physically grounded within our world. The body is our means of interaction with the physical world and a source of all our perceptual experiences. As Merleau-Ponty suggests, “… perceiving as we do with our body, the body is a natural self and, as it were, the subject of perception.” The chapter will enter into a conversation with Berthe Morisot’s Self-Portrait with Julie Manet (1887) as a means to consider how the formal elements of drawing: composition, line, tone, mark, etc. have retained the trace of the bodily movements and experience of the artist whilst at the same time, acknowledging the influence of the trace of their lived world. The motivation for selecting this drawing in which to enter into a conversation, is an interest in the potential of what at first sight could be a considered a rapidly executed sketch to capture an intimate moment in the relationship of the mother/artist and her daughter. Many contemporary women artists, whose various roles and societal expectations are traced within the surface of their work, also wander this line. Berthe Morisot’s drawing of a drawing lesson with her daughter Julie represents a moment in time, a moment of their everyday life. Higonnet states, “Morisot represents her maternal love as artistic attention rather than physical intimacy.” This is certainly evident in many of Morisot’s works where she depicts Julie as an individual engaged in everyday activities, often scenes of her artistic and intellectual development. However, in this drawing Morisot is present within the space, in close proximity with her daughter. There is an outline that runs around the contours of the two figures encircling them like an embrace and suggesting the intimate bond of the mother/daughter relationship. However, Morisot is present in this drawing in her roles as both mother and artist. Through a close reading of the drawing the chapter will reflect on the phenomenological aspects of drawing as a means to capture embodied and lived experience and the relevance of entering into a conversation with this drawing as a means to reflect on aspects of the intimate space of a mother/daughter relationship within contemporary society.



  • The Arts, English and Drama


  • Arts

Published in

Body, Space, and Place in Collective and Collaborative Drawing: Drawing Conversations II


217 - 229


Cambridge Scholars Publishing


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© Jill Journeaux, Helen Gørrill, Sara Reed and contributors

Publisher statement

Published with the permission of Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Publication date


Copyright date



9781527541962; 1527541967




Jill Journeaux, Helen Gørrill, Sara Reed


Dr Deborah Harty

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