|"Denise at her Dressing Table" by Mary Cassatt, 1908-9. Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
Born in 1844 in Allegheny City (now Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania to a banker and well-read mother, the tenacious Cassatt become an artist against her father’s wishes. She defied the law of the day that denied women a formal art education. Traveling in Europe, she gleaned what she could by studying privately with Jean-Leon Gerome, Édouard Frère and Paul Soyer and studying works of the Old Masters. Eager to break new ground, Cassatt was the only American officially accepted into the French “Indépendents” later known as the Impressionists.
The oeuvre of Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), which includes several paintings of mothers and children bathing and snuggling, at first glance seem quotidian and trite depictions of a woman’s “place in the house”. While I always appreciated the mastery of her compositions, I’ve only recently come to connect to the narrative in her work and understand her as a pioneer of feminism within the context of her time. Cassatt, neither a wife or a mother, was one of the first artists to change the manner in which
women were portrayed: from passive bystander and subject of the male gaze,
to protagonist. In her paintings and prints, it is women who are the main characters taking center stage and doing the looking.
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART'S PAGE ON MARY CASSATT
As a figurative painter one of my goals is to lend a voice to underrepresented subjects, and change old narratives in how we are perceived. Cassatt did that for the women of her time and did it masterfully.
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO GO TO MANU SALUJA'S WEBSITE: www.manusaluja.com
|"Passage" by Manu Saluja, 30 x 24 in, Oil on Canvas|