Looking at Art

Considering the era in which she painted, I find it amazing that Mary Cassatt attained such stature. Perhaps part of that can be attributed to her friendship with Edgar Degas who invited her into the group of artists that we know as the Impressionists. She was the only American in the group and exhibited in four of their eight exhibitions.

Whatever the reason for her success, I am grateful as Mary Cassatt is one of my favorite artists. The warmth and naturalness in her work, particularly her depictions of mother and child, draws me in. Too, I admire her composition and use of color, especially in her pastels.

Until recently, I was most familiar with her paintings, and until visiting an exhibit at the excellent art museum at Maine’s Colby College had no familiarity with her black and white prints. She took up printmaking late in her career, and Degas was an important influence.

Her prints focused mainly on upper class women in Paris where she spent considerable time studying and working. Her prints are scenes of domesticity, childcare and the opera which was one of her favorite outings.

They depict solitary moments

as well as interaction with friends and family.

As I wandered through the exhibit, expressions on faces got more than a little of my attention. Were they sad or, perhaps, lost in moments of introspection? Somehow, done in black and white, Cassatt’s subjects came across differently than in her paintings.

It was interesting to see these works as they expanded my awareness of Cassatt’s considerable talent. Creating in the late 1800’s, she attained stature unusual for a woman. I like to think of her as being ahead of her time.

8 thoughts on “Looking at Art

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I became a fan of Mary Cassatt’s work on a PBS special back in the 90’s. I have never seen the prints before can appreciate the talent she had as an artist having tried portrait and sketch painting myself.
    Thank you again.

  2. How nice to be able to visit this exhibit of her work and learn more about her.

  3. She was definitely ahead of the times, and such a talented artist. I haven’t been to a museum in forever, thank you for the virtual trip!

  4. Linda, what a beautiful exhibit. I am also drawn to her mother and child paintings!

  5. A beautiful post on a remarkable artist. I, too, love her warmth and sincere love of the people she has captured. Thanks for posting these works of art.

  6. rosemary lentini August 24, 2021 — 6:39 pm

    I too am a fan of Mary Cassatt’s paintings. Am absolutely drawn to her mother and child depictions.
    Have a few prints of my favorites and pick up greeting cards featuring her art whenever I find them.
    I believe if I like to study Cassatt’s pictures, the recipient of these cards will also enjoy them. The Colby
    Museum is another reason I must make a return visit to Maine!

  7. Kathleen Oliver August 24, 2021 — 4:24 pm

    Thank you, I was not familiar with Mary Cassatt’s print making period but I have always loved her pastel’s.

    Once when I was going to Paris, I contacted the Musee de Orsay about seeing Mary Cassatt’s work and was told they only had one pastel and it would not be on display when I was there. I am glad that Mary Cassat’s is more well known in the U.S. and wonder how such a collection wound up in the Colby Museum?
    The Fayez Sarofim collection recently loaned to the HMFA has one beautiful Mary Cassatt pastel.

    1. The Colby museum is well endowed and this collection is from a benefactor.

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