The Impressionist Movement: Edgar Degas And Mary Cassatt

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The Impressionist Movement: Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt

Throughout history, art has acted as a medium of expression for many of the political and social issues that surrounded the artists. Artworks inspired new art movements, and other times it was the political and social circumstances that brought on a new range of artists and styles. The 19th century moved through many art movements, but one that dominated most of the late 19th century was Impressionism. Impressionism was an art style that was a response to the brutal and chaotic transformation of French life that occurred during the late 19th century (Kleiner 654). Preceding the Romanticist art movement, Monet, Degas and several others became the founders of this movement, and they focused
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Comparing their two pieces, ‘The Tub’ and ‘The Bath’, the differences lie mostly in the subject matter. Degas was a male artist in the 19th century and Cassatt, a female artist; this is already the biggest difference between them and their works. Female artists of previous time periods already were restricted in what they could do and paint and this remained the same for Cassatt, but, she was more accepted than previous female artists. She was even invited to join the Impressionists and her work fit the style of the Impressionists as it was considered to be very avant-garde at the time (Yeh 359). The themes of her works were mainly centered on the social issues of women and children. And these subjects were so easily available to her because she was a woman herself. She was able to see the side of women that the male artists did not get to see. At the same time, she also did not get to see what the male artists saw. Degas and other fellow Impressionists enjoyed observing outdoor scenes and going to cafes, which was not always something Cassatt could do. In Degas’ bathing scene, the woman is shown facing away from the viewer and seems unaware. It was done in Degas’ favourite medium, pastels, which keep the colours bright and vivd. The sketchy style it is drawn in also creates motion and gives depth to the figure’s surroundings. In contrast, we have Cassatt’s, where the mother and child are facing the viewer, but with an elevated view. In terms of detailing, Cassatt’s was more detailed with patterns on top of patterns, for instance, the floral wallpaper, the mother’s stripped dress, and the geometric carpet compared to Cassatt’s, where the background and surrounding objects were flat. Although there are many differences, they were also quite alike. Both paintings were inspired by Japanese prints, or

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