Friday, January 18, 2013

Self Portraits by Mary Cassatt

One of my husband's family members passed away recently and we inherited some of her belongings. Because she was warm, interesting and fun she had a great collection of art books-- Rembrandt, Degas, a folding copy of 100 Butterflies, Cezanne, and van Gogh.  I'm currently making my way through the Degas, and the author pauses to described Cassatt and sing her praises as an extraordinary artist and dinner companion of acidic wit. She and Degas were great friends. Both were selective in their company and described as difficult to get along with and highly motivated. Cassatt's mom is quoted complaining about Degas procrastinating and ultimately dropping the ball on a magazine the artists had planned on launching to showcase prints of the modern world. "As usual," she grumbles.

Self portrait by Mary Cassatt. More detailed description follows in caption.
Self Portrait by Mary Cassatt. This is so cool because everything about her process of posing is visible-- it's obviously a straight mirror image of her at her easel-- while the painting style is also transparent with visible brush strokes and outlines.
Self portrait by Mary Cassatt. Detailed description follows in caption.
Self portrait by Mary Cassatt. The process for this one is a little less clear to me as she can't have been painting in that getup (all white, with gloves!). Did someone else pose for the body? [Image: Impressionist painting of Cassat, a youngish white woman, leaning with one elbow on a pillow or piece of striped brown and red furniture. She clasps her hands softly in front of her and looks to the right out of frame. She wears a white dress and gloves with a dark burgundy flowered bonnet. The background is solid sea-foam green mixed with cream., probably an interior wall. Her face and body form a thick white diagonal shape from top left to bottom right, somewhat triangular. The head is at the top two-thirds mark, her hands at the bottom third mark. Brush strokes and wrinkles form very subtle concentric circles around her head and shoulders.]
Photo of Mary Cassatt
A photo of Cassatt.

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