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“Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge” by Mary Cassatt

"Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge" by Mary Cassatt

“Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge” by Mary Cassatt

“Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge” by Mary Cassatt is one of a series of theatre scenes in Paris created by Cassatt in the late 1870s. This work, shows a woman, assumed to be her sister Lydia seated in front of a mirror with the balconies of the Paris Opéra House reflected behind her. This painting demonstrates the influence of Edgar Degas, one of her close friends, particularly in the depiction of the effects of the lighting. Cassatt and Degas had a long period of collaboration. The two had studios close together, and Degas got into the habit of visiting Cassatt’s studio and offering her advice and help. He also introduced her other Impressionist artists and the city’s nightlife.

This painting was shown at the fourth Paris Impressionist exhibition in 1879, where it was singled out for praise. Although some critics claimed that Cassatt’s colours were too bright and that her portraits were too accurate to be flattering to the subjects, her work was not savaged as was Monet’s. She also participated in the Impressionist Exhibitions that followed in 1880 and 1881, and she remained an active member of the Impressionist circle until 1886. In 1886, Cassatt provided two paintings for the first Impressionist exhibition in the US.

Cassatt and Degas had much in common, they shared similar tastes in art and literature, came from affluent backgrounds, had studied painting in Italy, and both were independent, never marrying. Degas introduced Cassatt to pastel and engraving, both of which Cassatt quickly mastered, while for her part Cassatt was instrumental in helping Degas sell his paintings and promoting his reputation in America.

Cassatt and Degas worked most closely together when Cassatt was developing her printmaking technique. Degas owned a small printing press, and she worked at his studio using his tools and press. However, in 1880, Degas abruptly withdrew from the prints journal they had been jointly collaborating on, and without his support, the project folded. Cassatt never again worked with Degas again as closely as she had over the prints journal and she ceased executing her theatre scenes at that time.

Mary Cassatt

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844 – 1926) was an American painter and printmaker. She was born in Pennsylvania but 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.

Cassatt enjoyed the wave of feminism that occurred in the mid-1800s, allowing relatively more accessible educational opportunities and she became an outspoken advocate for women’s equality, campaigning with her friends for equal travel scholarships for students in the 1860s, and the right to vote in the 1910s. As a successful, highly trained woman artist who never married, she portrayed women and mothers with dignity and the suggestion of a more in-depth, meaningful inner life. Cassatt objected to being stereotyped as a “woman artist” and actively supported women’s suffrage.

Mary Cassatt Insights

  • In 1966, one of Cassatt’s painting appeared on a US postage stamp.
  • Cassatt enjoyed the wave of feminism that occurred in the 1840s, allowing her to access educational institutions at newly coed colleges and universities.
  • Cassatt was an outspoken advocate for women’s equality, campaigning for equal scholarships in the 1860s, and the right to vote in the 1910s.
  • A trip to Egypt in 1910, so impressed Cassatt with the beauty of its ancient art, that she had a crisis of creativity.
  • While in France, Cassatt and Degas had an extended period of collaboration, and she also had contact with Renoir, Monet, and Pissarro.

Reflections

  • Do you agree with some critics, of the time, that claimed that Cassatt’s colours were too bright?

Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge

  • Title:               Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge
  • Artist:              Mary Cassatt
  • Year:               1879
  • Medium:         Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:   Height: 813.31 mm (32.02 ″); Width: 597.41 mm (23.52 ″)
  • Museum:         Philadelphia Museum of Art

Mary Cassatt

A Tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

~~~

“crushed by the strength of this Art [the old Egyptian art]…
I fought against it, but it conquered,
it is surely the greatest Art the past has left us…
..how are my feeble hands to ever paint the effect on me..”

– Mary Cassatt

~~~


Photo Credit: Philadelphia Museum of Art [Public domain]

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