By Darla McCammon
This week we will delve into the life of a woman who left behind a collection of work that included many wonderful paintings. One magnificent piece, “Lydia assise dans le jardin,” signifies spring to almost every viewer. Mary Stevenson Cassatt, the creator of this artwork, was born in the spring of 1844 in what is now Pittsburgh’s north side, but at that time was a nearby small town called Allegheny City in Pennsylvania. She was privileged to have wealthy and influential parents in Katherine and Robert Cassatt.
The family believed in travel and education and Mary took full advantage of her travels to learn German and French as well as taking opportunities to learn drawing and music. She began a serious study of painting at age 15 in America but because of the travel could include artists like Delacroix, Corot, Courbet, and later Degas and Camille Pissarro, as her acquaintances and later mentors.
Cassatt kept up her studies in spite of what she felt were inadequate and slow teaching methods along with patronizing attitudes toward female artists. Finally, in 1866, with her mother and some friends as chaperones, she convinced her reluctant father to send her to Paris for more than just a vacation. The Ecole des Beaux-Arts was closed to women so Cassatt managed to go around this impediment and paid to have lessons from master teachers in the very same school. Her main instructor was Gerome, who excelled in super realism. She also gained a permit to go to the Louvre on a daily basis in order to copy work of the great masters.
The French art scene went through many upheavals and Cassatt, like her friends, was often impacted by the changes. Her life is terrifically interesting and if you have time you will find it worth searching out her entire story. She had successes along with much frustration in trying to be recognized for her talent. Her father never accepted her as a professional artist. Her brother became president of the Pennsylvania Railroad and Mary was compared unfavorably to him to the point her father would support her in many ways unless it meant spending money to assist her in her art career.
Please enjoy this work of Cassatt. Next week we will bring you another spring view by a contemporary of those I’ve shared thus far.
Upcoming and Current Events
If you have an event to mention, contact Darla at [email protected] or at (574) 527-4044.
- The Dean Jansen photography exhibit at Warsaw City Hall will be on display through May 31. Jansen will greet visitors at the gallery in person at dates to be provided in the future.
- The Wagon Wheel Salon is featuring the Al Disbro photography exhibit “Our Town” through April 29. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. There is no charge except during show performances.
- The Gallery at Rua will feature the RedBird Studio art exhibit through May 19. Cardinal Services is proudly displaying some incredible artwork under mentor Timothy Young.
- On Saturday, April 13, the Lakeland Art Association will host a free to attend “open studio.”