Mary Cassatt was an American painter and printmaker who was part of the Impressionist movement. Although born in Pennsylvania, she lived most of her adult life in France. Cassatt admired Degas’s work and studied with him and befriended him while in Paris. Cassatt is known for her Impressionist style paintings and particularly for her many paintings of mothers and children. She became a great artist during a time period when such a life was very difficult for a woman. Besides being recognized as an important artist, Cassatt had a great influence on the art collections within the United States.
Mary Cassatt createdThe Boating Partyin the winter of 1893 or1894 on the Mediterranean coast in France. It is representative of Cassatt's finest period. Just two years earlier, as a mature and accomplished artist, she had had her first one-person exhibition. In the Boating Party,the high horizon, the off-center placement of figures, the lack of unnecessary detail, and the attention to surface patterns and contours all reflect her awareness of Japanese art. Cassatt used a close-up view, with portions of the boat being cut off at the edge of the painting. The dazzling colors and broad, flat brushwork are post-impressionist in style. The painting’s composition is not typical. The boatman figure is dark and looms large in the foreground. The sail at left, the oar, and the bow of the boat all point to the head of the child. The child sprawls gracelessly, yet naturally, in its mother’s lap. The Boating Party is one of Cassatt’s boldest works.
Lydia Seated in the Garden With a Dog in Her Lap by Cassatt
WEDNESDAY - Cassatt's struggle with discrimination against women
Mary Cassatt came from a wealthy family near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Her schooling prepared her to be a proper wife and mother, but Cassatt wanted to be a professional artist. Though women of her day were discouraged from pursuing a career, she enrolled in an art academy at age 16. Not surprisingly, she found the male faculty and her fellow male students to be resentful of her attendance. Cassatt moved to Paris to study art. Since women could not attend the main Parisian art school, she studied privately with one of the teachers and studied paintings of the old masters in the Louvre museum. Her father continued to object to Cassatt being a painter. He paid for her basic needs, but would not buy her art supplies. Many times Cassatt saw that works by female artists were often dismissed with contempt unless the artist had a friend or protector on the jury of an exhibit. Finally some of her paintings began to be appreciated. Cassatt supported women’s suffrage, and in 1915 she showed 18 works in an exhibition supporting the movement. Her participation angered her sister-in-law who was anti-suffrage and she boycotted the show. Cassatt responded by selling off her work that would have been destined for her heirs. That was how the National Gallery in Washington was able to buy The Boating Party. If Mary Cassatt had let the barriers against women having a career stop her, she would never have become a famous artist.
THURSDAY - Mothers and Children - Cassatt's Speciality
"Auguste Reading to Her Daughter" by Mary Cassatt
Young Mother Sewing - Oil by Mary Cassatt
Many of the Impressionists chose to paint landscapes and street scenes, but Mary Cassatt became famous for her portraits. After 1900, she concentrated almost entirely on mother-and-child subjects. She was drawn to women in everyday home settings and most especially to mothers with their children. But unlike the Madonnas and babies of the Renaissance, Cassatt’s portraits were more direct and honest portrayals. Her portraits of women and mothers and children were tenderly observed yet true to the characters.
"Dancer Adjusting Her Shoes", pastel by Edgar Degas
While living in Paris, Mary Cassatt admired Degas’s work. His pastels amazed her when she encountered them in an art dealer's window in 1875. She became friends with Degas, and he had a considerable influence on her art.
A Kiss for Baby Anne no. 3 - pastel by Mary Cassatt
Margot in Blue - pastel by Mary Cassatt
Degas introduced Cassatt to pastels, which became one of Cassatt’s best mediums. Cassatt, in turn, played an important part in helping Degas sell his paintings and promoting his reputation in America.
"Mary Cassatt Seated, Holding Cards" by Edgar Degas
"Little Girl in Blue Armchair" by Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas
Degas made an oil painting of Cassatt, Mary Cassatt Seated, Holding Cards. Degas and Cassatt worked together on the painting, “Little Girl in Blue Armchair.”
"Five O'Clock Tea" by Mary Cassatt
"Sarah in Green Bonnett" by Mary Cassatt
Cassatt was invited to exhibit her work with the Impressionists. Cassatt was the only American to be part of the original Impressionist movement.In the early 1900’s, Cassatt began encouraging wealthy Americans to support the Impressionist movement by purchasing their paintings. She served as an advisor to several major art collectors, but she insisted that these private collectors first agree for their purchased artworks to be eventually passed on to American museums. American art museums now house admirable collections of Impressionist art, thanks in part to Mary Cassatt.
Arkansas Visual Art Frameworks
VA.7.2.2 Recognize works of art using common themes across diferent time periods
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