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Post #824 • July 6, 2006, 4:41 PM • 14 Comments
I'm still trying to get my head around this show. In the studio I'm staggering, trying to come up with something that will match this treasure-heap of charm, knowing that the contemporaneity is as important as the technique. I'm making progress, I think, but won't jinx it by talking about it more.
The Tea (about 1880), Mary Stevenson Cassatt (American, 1844-1926). Oil on canvas 64.77 x 92.07 cm (25 1/2 x 36 1/4 in.) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. M. Theresa B. Hopkins Fund. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
I used to antagonize a painter friend of mine (hi, Kerry!) by saying that Cassatt is better than Max Beckmann. I did it mostly to irritate him, but now that I've seen each recently, I will restate it as fact.
Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge (1879), Mary Stevenson Cassatt (American, 1844-1926). Oil on canvas. Overall: 81.3 x 59.7 cm (32 x 23 1/2 in.) Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania. Bequest of Charlotte Dorrance Wright. Photo By: Lynn Rosenthal. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Cassatt has been getting trash-talked by a reviewer or two (as noted here), obliging me to point out that Cassatt took a painting motif monopolized by Madonnas and an army of infant Christs and transformed it into a secular expression. In the meantime, she dashingly employed a hachure that prefigures Cezanne's phlegmatic version, right down to the areas of open canvas. So there.
Little Girl in a Blue Armchair (1878). Mary Stevenson Cassatt (American, 1844-1926). Oil on canvas Overall: 89.5 x 129.8 cm (35 1/4 x 51 1/8 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon. Image © 2006 Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Beaux nailed two sitters admirably here.
Sita et Sarita (Jeune fille au chat) (1893-1894). Cecilia Beaux (American, 1855-1942). Oil on canvas. Overall: 94 x 63.5 cm (37 x 25 in.) Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Gift of the artist to the Musée du Luxembourg. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing / Art Resource, NY. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
This work hangs next to Whistler's Mother in the installation, and holds up. In fact, with its higher contrast and interacting pair, it makes the signature Whistlerian atmosphere look like it could use an open window to blow out the fog.
Les Derniers Jours d'Enfance (1885). Cecilia Beaux (American, 1855-1942). Oil on canvas. Overall: 116.2 x 137.2 cm (45 3/4 x 54 in.) Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Gift of Cecilia Drinker Saltonstall. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.