Above all, Berthe Morisot yearns to be a professional artist. Chafing under the tutelage of traditional masters, Berthe is mesmerized by Paris' most revolutionary artist, the debonair Édouard Manet, whose radical paintings reflect a brash modern style. Berthe consents to model for Édouard and in the process falls deeply in love, an affair that both must keep hidden from the world, for Édouard is married to another. As the city of Paris is convulsed by the Franco-Prussian war, and dark family secrets are revealed, the lovers are driven apart.
Berthe, after enduring the horrors of a city under siege and suffering from recurring depression, marries Édouard's brother, the mercurial Eugène Manet. Quiet married life is not for Berthe, however, and shealong with her infamous contemporaries, which include Degas, Cézanne, and Monetdevelop the radical painting style that challenges the stifling traditionalism of the Salon: Impressionism.