Sunday, May 4, 2014

Impressionism (pt. 25)

Mary Cassatt studied in both the U.S. and Paris.  She gained notoriety at Impressionist exhibitions and became famous as the first female American painter of significant international acclaim.  She was greatly influenced by Degas' work.  Most of her works are of peaceful scenes of mothers and their children.  We can recall Morisot's The Cradle in works by Cassatt such as this one, entitled The Child's Bath.  Once again, this is women's Realism of the late 19th century; that women were called upon chiefly as mothers and "angels of the house," and that was all they knew.  With the rise of women's activist committees, however, and eventually the suffragette movement, women would gradually gain admittance outside of the home and—really launching into effect during the Second World War—the workplace, as well.  For now, however, Mary Cassatt turned to the personal realism of her own life to depict subjects of motherhood and quiet, homely life.  You can see in this painting the flatness of the image as inspired by popular Japanese woodblock prints of the time.  The candid scene of this tender but largely insignificant moment (unless you want to read into "the washing of one's feet," but I don't know that I would) also draws back on influences of photography and Modern artistic subject matter.

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