Posts Tagged ‘ National Academy of Design ’

‘Woman with a Fan’, by Mary Cassat

From Mary Stevenson Cassat [22 May 1844 – 14 June 1926], ‘Woman with a Fan’, c. 1878/1879.

Miss Mary Ellison, c. 1880, oil on canvas
Chester Dale Collection – National Gallery of Art, Washington


This painting is the second of two portraits by Mary Cassatt thought to be of Mary Ellison. Cassatt painted the first in 1877, shortly after she met Miss Ellison through their mutual friend, Louise Waldron Elder (later Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, a well-known American art collector and a patron of Cassatt). Cassatt does not flatter but, rather, concentrates on Miss Ellison’s contemplative mood.

In this painting, Cassatt demonstrates her affinities with the impressionists. Her brushwork is open and sketchy, and she favors a strong compositional structure over pictorial detail. The mirror behind Ellison was a device the artist used often; its presence allowed the expansion of the composition’s implied space to include areas that the viewer could not otherwise see. Via.


‘The Loge’, de Mary Cassatt

Mary Stevenson Cassat [22 Maio 1844 – 14 Junho 1926] estudou na Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts em Filadélfia entre 1861 e 1865. Em 1868, expôs pela primeira vez no Salon de Paris, onde viria a conhecer Edgar Degas, com quem cultivou amizade e cuja influência foi decisiva para se afirmar no movimento impressionista. Em 1910 tornou-se membro da National Academy of Design, em Nova Iorque.

Mary Cassatt – The Loge, c. 1878-1880
Chester Dale Collection – National Gallery of Art, Washington


A cultivated woman, Mary Cassatt was at home at the theater and opera. In The Loge she depicts two elegantly dressed young women who sit primly in their theater box absorbed in the performance below. The figures are shown close-up, suggesting that we share both their vantage point and their experience of the performance. Reflected in a large mirror behind them, a glittering chandelier illuminates the tiers of gilded balconies that curve majestically around the auditorium. Aware that they are on view from the other boxes, the young women appear slightly self-conscious. One young woman retreats behind her fan. The other clutches her bouquet; her carefully neutral expression establishes a discreet emotional distance.

Cassatt was as attentive to the formal qualities of composition as to the individualization of the figures. Here the sweeping lines of the balconies in the background and the spread of the open fan establish the pattern for this carefully organized composition. The curves are echoed in the black neck ribbon, the rounded shoulders, the arc of the bouquet, and the crystal chandelier. Eliminating details with loose brushwork and softly merging colors, Cassatt suggested rather than defined such elements as the flowers on the fan and the distant audience. Elsewhere, in the arms for example, she emphasized form by allowing the brushstrokes to follow contours and, at times, by using pure line to emphasize a particular shape. The resulting image is, at once, solid and evanescent.

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