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Mary Cassatt Gallery     Prints.     Full biography.
Mary Cassatt (1844 - 1926)
Cassatt was born in Pittsburg and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. She traveled extensively through Europe with her parents and siblings and in 1874 she settled permanently in Paris. Although she had several works accepted for exhibition by the tradition-bound French Salon, her artistic aims aligned her with the avant-garde painters of the time and in 1877 she joined the impressionists. Her innovative compositions explore the lives of women - attending the opera, drinking tea, writing letters, caring for children in a straightforward manner free from sentimentality. She created an ambitious mural representing modern woman for the 1893 World's Fair.
Breakfast
Bath
Boating Party
Arranging Her Hair
Black Hat
Family
Dancer

Viewer

The Boating Party, 1893/1894
oil on canvas, 90 x 117.3 cm (35 7/16 x 46 1/8 in.)

This bold composition reveals the influence of the flat, patterned surfaces, simplified color blocks, and unusual angles of Japanese prints, which enjoyed a huge vogue in Paris in the late 1800s. The dark figure of the man compresses the picture onto the flat plane of the canvas, and the horizon is pushed to the top, flattening space in the distance. Our high vantage gives us an oblique, bird's-eye view into the boat. Its form is divided into decorative shapes by the intersection of its horizontal supports.

After 1893, Cassatt began to spend many summers on the Mediterranean coast at Antibes. Under its intense sun, she began to experiment with harder, more decorative color. Here, citron and blue carve strong arcs that divide the picture into assertive, almost abstract, shapes. This picture, with its bold geometry and decorative patterning of the surface, positions Mary Cassatt with such post-impressionist painters as Gauguin and Van Gogh.

This painting, one of her most ambitious, was the centerpiece of Cassatt's first solo exhibition in the United States, in 1895. Her contacts with wealthy friends in the United States did much to bring avant-garde French painting into this country.
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