Friday, September 21, 2012

Cassatt, Mary

Young Mother Sewing
oil on canvas
92.4 x 73.7 cm (36 3/8 x 29 in.)
Henry Osborne Havemeyer Collection
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

"Why do people so love to wander? I think the civilized parts of the World will suffice for me in the future." (Cassatt)
During the 1870s and 1880s, Cassatt often depicted women out and about in Paris, where she had settled in 1874. During the 1890s, she narrowed the range of her subjects to mothers or nurses caring for children and children alone. These themes reflected her affection for her nieces and nephews and her friends' children and her contemporaries' concern with motherhood and child rearing.

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.