Undeniably Berthe Morisot's most famous painting, The Cradle was painted in Paris in 1872. It shows one of the artist's sisters, Edma, watching over her sleeping daughter, Blanche. It is the first image of motherhood—later one of her favourite subjects—to appear in Morisot's work.
The mother's gaze, her bent left arm, a mirror image of the child's arm, and the baby's closed eyes form a diagonal line which is further accentuated by the movement of the curtain in the background. This diagonal links the mother to her child. Edma's gesture, drawing the net curtain of the cradle between the spectator and the baby, further reinforces the feeling of intimacy and protective love expressed in the painting.
Berthe Morisot showed The Cradle at the Impressionist exhibition of 1874—the first woman to exhibit with the group. The painting was scarcely noticed although important critics commented on its grace and elegance. After unsuccessful attempts to sell it, Berthe Morisot withdrew it from display and The Cradle stayed in the model's family until it was bought by the Louvre in 1930.