Saturday, July 31, 2010

An Unusual Cassatt Portrait

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926). Portrait of a Woman 1872

Here is a Mary Cassatt portrait much more similar to the early 18th-century portraits of colonial American women. Cassatt painted Portrait of a Woman in 1872, during an 8-month stay in Parma, Italy.

It was during this, her 3rd trip abroad from her home in Pennsylvania, that Cassatt decided to settle in Europe permanently.

Painted several years before Cassatt eagerly adopted Impressionism, this portrait shows the influence of Italian Baroque painting, with its golden light, classical drapery, & monumental proportions.

Portrait of a Woman is one of several paintings the artist made of monumental, costumed women during her studies in Parma. Its sense of depth differs from Cassatt's later work, in which space is more flattened.

Later, like other Impressionists, Cassatt became more interested in painting everyday subject matter & natural gestures, than she was concerned with theories about light & brushwork technique, which she was concentrating on in this early portrait. Around 1876, Edgar Degas painted a portrait of Cassatt, as she was just beginning her career as an Impressionist.

For additional works by Mary Cassatt click here.