Monday, October 27, 2014

Famous Women Artists: Mary Cassatt

This post is part of my "famous women artists" series where I turn the spotlight on different women artists. This week we focus on painter Mary Cassatt.


American Impressionist in Paris

Mary Cassatt was a leader in the Impressionist art movement during the late nineteenth century in Paris and is probably the artist responsible for bringing interest of collecting impressionist art to America. From a wealthy American family, Cassatt made her way as an artist in the male dominated circle of the French impressionists and became a close friend of the artist Degas.

While Degas focused on the ballerina and the nude bather, Cassatt's genre was that of the domestic interior of mother and child. These intimate portraits brought the child to full scale and these larger than life portraits showed children other than the baby Jesus which had preciously been the dominant baby seen in art history.

Notice how the children take up much of the canvas in all of these examples.

Samples of her artwork:

Little Girl in a Blue Armchair (1878)

Cassatt and Degas were always my two personal favorites as they worked often in pastel which was the first medium I experimented with. I loved the colored chalk that was easy to use. Although I no longer work with the dusty drawing materials, I still owe much of my aesthetic when I do my watercolor portraits of children to Cassatt and my watercolor nudes owe much to Degas. 

The Bath (1891-92)

Two of my favorite Cassatts are Little Girl in a Blue Armchair which I reproduced myself in pastel ( hers is in oil) and also The Bath. My grandparents had a framed poster of the bath in their bedroom and I remember it fondly.

Brief Discussion of "The Bath"

Watch this short video of art historian discussion the virtues of this painting.

The Boating Party (1893-94)

"I am independent! I can live alone and I love to work."

~Mary Cassatt


Current Exhibitions of Mary Cassatt's Paintings around the World: 

  • Picturing America: Signature Works from the Westmoreland Museum of American Art: The Hyde Collection; Glens Falls, New York; September 28, 2014 - January 4, 2015
  • Painting a Nation: American Art at Shelburne Museum; Shelburne Museum; Shelburne, Vermont; May 26, 2014 - October 31, 2014
  • Lasting Legacy: A Collection for Kalamazoo; Kalamazoo Institute of Arts; Kalamazoo, Michigan; September 6, 2014 - December 7, 2014


Selfportrait (1878)

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What do you think of these portraits?