Essay on Analysis Of Mary Cassatt 's ' Much Of Her Work '

1235 Words Nov 20th, 2015 null Page
In much of her work, Mary Cassatt explores the politics of gender and ‘the gaze.’ Born in Philadelphia to a wealthy family, Cassatt settled in Paris in 1866 and became actively involved with the Impressionist movement, finding inspiration in the works of Manet and Degas. However, during this time equality between men and women was seemingly absent: whilst men were encouraged to pursue a career, women were often confined to domestic life, deprived of many personal and social freedoms. By choosing not to marry and instead focusing on her painting, Cassatt herself went the conventions attributed to women, something which is reflected in her artwork. In The Sisters, completed around 1885, Cassatt alludes the patriarchal values of late nineteenth century society, yet successfully challenges their presence within the painting. The subject is of two sisters sitting together in a garden; however, in her handling of physiognomy, clothing and landscape, Cassatt imbues this work with hidden messages which reflect and confront the gender politics of the late nineteenth century.

Cassatt situates the girls’ faces amidst broad expanses of green and white paint, appearing to separate their physical flesh from the rest of the composition. Whilst the surrounding brushwork is loose and elongated, the artist works with a much finer application of paint to create stillness and gravity in the girls’ expressions. In drawing the eye to this central image, Cassatt hints at the notion of ‘the…

Related Documents