Mary Cassatt Essay, Research Paper
Mary Cassatt was a strong and opinionated feminist, as well as a talented artist who changed her styles significantly through as her interests changed.
A. Introductory sentence
B. Thesis Statement
II. Cassatt?s Start
A. Schooling—-Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia
B. Traveling to Europe
C. Meeting Degas
III. Degas and Cassatt
IV. Cassatt?s Influences and Her Changes in Style
A. The Impressionists
3. impressionistic styles and theories
2. examples of people who were part of the movement
B. Japanese (drypoint) and its theories
V. Cassatt?s Work
A. Who she painted
B. Why she painted the subjects she did
VI. Significance to the Gilded Age
B. Feminist Accomplishments
VII. The Public?s Opinion of Her—–not well appreciated back home
VIII. Cassatt?s View on Women?s Issues and How They Relate to Her Art
A. Competitive and self assured feminist; aware of difficulties she would face as a woman
artist and was persistent in the face of adversity
B. Gave the women in her paintings meaning unlike traditional styles
A. Restate thesis
B. Sum up Cassatt?s contributions and views
Mary Stevenson Cassatt was a strong and opinionated feminist, as well as a talented artist who changed her style significantly as her life changed. Cassatt?s start, meeting Degas, her influences, work, significance to the Gilded Age, the public?s opinion, and views on women?s issues were major segments of her life. She contributed much to the world.
Cassatt schooling began at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia around 1861. Her father suggested she went to that academy. This was not what she wanted; none of the ?great masters? were at the academy. She wanted to study the masters and copy their paintings in order to learn. She went anyway because she ?was wise in the ways of her family.? Her experience was actually even worse than she expected it to be (Carson 5). Cassatt wanted to become professional artist, which meant making money (4). She then traveled to Europe and settled in Paris in 1874. She studied in the major museums of Europe. In that year she had a work accepted at the Salon. At that Salon she met her future close friend Edgar Degas (Sills 1). Degas asked Cassatt to exhibit with him and his fellow impressionists. Cassatt readily accepted Degas?s invitation partially due to much rejection from salon exhibitions and other juried shows. Cassatt said, ?At last, I could work with absolute independence without considering the opinion of a jury. I had already recognized who were my true masters. I admired Monet, Courbet, and Degas. I hated conventional art—-I began to live? (Artist Profiles 2).
Degas was one of the most important people in Mary Cassatt?s life. ?It was Degas who took the initiative in asking Mary Cassatt to show her work in the fourth Impressionist exhibition and it was he who made a list of her pictures to be shown…He and she were becoming great friends…once when he said something about her work that offended her, she stopped seeing him for [many months]…their friendship was to last for nearly forty years…The
similarity of their taste, ?identical intellectual dispositions and identical predilection for drawing,? were to transform their friendly relations into a love affair, the duration and intensity of which we know nothing? (Carson 27). ?Edgar Degas was the son of a wealthy banker and his aristocratic family background installed into his early art a haughty yet sensitive quality of detachment? (Web Museum Paris 2). One of his favorite themes of the early 1870?s was the classic female dancer. His art is said to have reflected ? a concern for the psychology of movement and expression and the harmony of line and continuity of contour? (Web Museum Paris 1).
Mary Cassatt had many influences in her life; Impressionism was one of them. ?Cassatt?s style and subject matter greatly changed as a result of her association with the Impressionists…Her graphic techniques became a larger part of her art by experiencing a failed project with Pissarro and Braquemond. These skills were very important to her development as a printmaker? (Artist Profiles 3). It was a movement in painting as well as music which was developed in the late 19th century in France. The Impressionists preferred to paint outdoors and they chose landscapes and street scenes, as well as figures from everyday life. Their main goal was to get spontaneous, undetailed picture of the worked through careful representation of the effect of natural light on the objects. They would prefer to use primary colors and some complementary colors. Placing them side by side would achieve greater brightness of color and luminosity of the tone in the paintings. They tended to eliminate minor details and suggest rather than define form. It had far reaching effects and painters who began as impressionists developed other techniques. These techniques started new movements in art (Microsoft Encarta 2 & 3). The main Impressionist painters of the time were Claud Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Berthe Morisot, Armand Guillaumin Frederic Bazille, and Edgar Degas. They worked together, influenced each other, and exhibited together but independently. The principle Impressionists of America were Hassam, Sargent, Homer, Whistler and of course Cassatt. The Impressionist style of painting was not as popular
in the U.S. as it was in Europe. Mary Cassatt?s style changed and she began going from mass to emphasizing line in 1882. She was influenced by the Japanese woodcuts along with her companion Degas. ?One of the most pronounced influences on late 19th century French art came not out of the mainstream of European civilization but from the island Empire of Japan, which had only recently (since 1856, with the arrival of Commodore Perry?s Pacific Squadron in Yedo Harbor) opened its doors to the West…Japanese art proved to be an endless source of fascination and inspiration for the Impressionists. Its refined line and unique concept of space especially appealed to Degas and Cassatt, who began to employ many of its conventions in their work? (Roudebush 56). Mary Cassatt tended to add a little bit of oriental features to her models which is especially noticeable in The Letter (67). The Ecole de Beaux-Arts held an exhibition which showed Japanese prints that increased even more her lust for printmaking (Artist Profiles 3). Another name for this new style was called drypoint. ?In drypoint, the lines are scratched directly into the plate with a sharp tool. Since the tool acts rather like a plow, it raises a low metal furrow, or burr, on either side of the drypoint line. The burr traps some of the ink that is rubbed across the plate and gives drypoint engravings a characteristically soft, almost fuzzy line? (Roudebush 66). One of Mary Cassatt?s first painting in this style was called The Tea; she painted it in 1890. Some critics say Cassatt?s prints have been considered her finest work, referring to those made from 1889-1899 (Carson 81).
Mary Cassatt had accomplished many works in her lifetime which included the two main styles she undertook, which were Impressionism and Japanese (drypoint). Some of Cassatt?s most famous paintings include: On a Balcony During a Carnival; The Toreador; Little Girl in a Blue Armchair; At the Theater; Woman Reading in a Garden; Femme en noir; La Toilette; The Boating Party; Mother and Child; Lady at the Tea Table; The Fitting; The Lamp; The Letter; Woman Bathing; an