Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cassatt, Mary

The Child's Bath
Oil on canvas
100.3 x 66.1 cm (39 1/2 x 26 in. )
Art Institute of Chicago, USA

Responding to the work of Edgar Degas and Japanese prints, Mary Cassatt created unorthodox compositions such as The Child's Bath by using then-unconventional devices like an elevated vantage point, cropping of forms, and bold outlines. In The Child's Bath, the crisp, clear forms and lively patterns are as appealing as the private, domestic moment we are permitted to witness.

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844 - 1926) was an American painter. She lived much of her adult life in France, where she first befriended Edgar Degas and later exhibited among the Impressionists. Cassatt often created images of the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children. She was described as one of "les trois grandes dames" of Impressionism alongside Marie Bracquemond and Berthe Morisot.

Her own works were very favourably received by the critics and contributed not a little to the acceptance of Impressionism. Despite her admiration for Degas, she was no slavish imitator of his style, retaining her own very personal idiom throughout her career. Her earlier works were marked by a certain lyrical effulgence and gentle, golden lighting, but by the 1890s, largely as a consequence of the exhibition of Japanese prints held in Paris at the beginning of that decade, her draughtsmanship became more emphatic, her colors clearer and more boldly defined. She was a great practical support to the movement of Impressionism as a whole, both by providing
direct financial help and by promoting the works of Impressionists in the USA.