Henri Francois Morisset
Henri Francois Morisset (06.04.1870, Paris – 15.11.1953, Paris), the first husband of the Mother. He was a son of noted artist Edouard Morisset and himself was quite well-known by the time he met Mirra. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts which was the most important painting school in Paris and had famous painters as its professors. Before joining Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1889, he had studied at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Oecoratifs Julian for four years where he had Bouguereau and Robert Fleury (who was also a professor at the Academie Julian) as his teachers. His studio was at Atelier, 15 rue Lemercier, Paris.
Mirra passed her final school examination in 1893 and joined the Academie Julian, Paris. Though she was the youngest of the pupils, yet, whenever any dispute arose among the other students, she was approached as an arbiter. Since she was serious by nature and always remained busy with her work, the students called her “The Sphinx”. It was then that she was introduced to Henri Morisset, the renowned painter. It is said that Henri and Mirra were introduced to each other by Mirra Ismalun, Mirra’s maternal grandmother who knew Edouard Morisset for several years. But Pournaprema had informed the author: “The Mother and Henry Morisset met in Paris. They were going to the same Art School to study painting”.
Mirra and Henri got married on 13 Ocober 1897 in Paris in a civil ceremony in the town hall of the VIIIth Arrondissement. They settled at 15 Rue Lemercier where they lived till 1907. In Rue Lemercier they rented an apartment on the first floor, connected by a footbridge with their glass-topped studio in the ‘fairly large’ garden.”
In 1898, Henri was invited to Pau (a town in southern France) to paint a series of murals in the Church of Saint James the Great. There he painted The Vocation of James the Fisherman, Saint James Preaching to the Masses, The Martyrdom of Saint James and The Apotheosis of Saint James. The last one represented a scene from the Battle of Clavijo fought between the Muslim Moors and the Spanish Christians in 844 AD. Mirra later said: “It was I who painted the slain and the struggling Moors, because I couldn’t climb up. One had to climb high on a ladder to paint. That was too difficult, so I did the things at the bottom.” Mirra could not climb up the ladder because she was pregnant at that time. On 23 August 1898, her son André was born.
Mirra used to go on holidays to Beaugency, on the banks of the Loire, where they had a country house. It was a lovely place, and here they practised painting. Here André stayed with his grandfather, his two aunts (Henri’s sisters) named Blanche and Henriette and a nurse.
In March 1908, Mirra divorced Henri Morisset and left their flat at Rue Lemercier and went to live alone on the fifth floor of 49 Rue du Levis which was not quite far off from her former residence.
Henri Morisset had a successful career and was honoured in 1912 with a membership in the Legion of Honour. And due to his earlier works at the Church of Saint James the Great, his name was included in the French dictionary of artists Benezit.