After the Bullfight by Mary Cassatt
Mary Cassatt picked a quintessentially Spanish subject, executing this painting of a torero in full formal attire during a long visit in Seville. Having prepared in Philadelphia and Paris, Cassatt wandered alone to Spain to ponder the nation's lords and to pursue the masterful way of present-day painters like Édouard Manet. Portraying the bullfighter at a casual minute, far expelled from the exhibition and viciousness of the ring, Cassatt omitted account detail. Rather, with innovator reasonableness, she concentrated on the male figure in an easygoing posture and utilized fiery brushwork and rich color to depict his ensemble. The bullfighter's trademark boasting all things considered insights at tease with a female partner outside the casing.
After the Bullfight Print
Mary Cassatt Biography
Mary Cassatt was born into an affluent family in Pennsylvania on May 22, 1844. She studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, one of the country's leading art schools. In addition to having regular exhibitions of European and American art, the faculty at the Academy encouraged students to study abroad. In 1865 Cassatt approached her parents with the idea of studying in Paris. Despite their initial objections, Cassatt's parents relented and allowed her to go.
In Paris, Cassatt attended classes in the studios of the academic artists Jean Léon Gérôme and Thomas Couture. She also traveled extensively in Europe studying and copying old master paintings. In 1874 she settled permanently in Paris, where her work was regularly shown at the Salon, the annual government-sponsored exhibition. The following year she saw the pastel work of Edgar Degas, one of the leaders of the Impressionist movement, in a gallery window. Years later, Cassatt described the importance of this experience, "I used to go and flatten my nose against the window and absorb all I could of his art. It changed my life. I saw art then as I wanted to see it."
Cassatt grew up in an environment that viewed travel as integral to education; she spent five years in Europe and visited many of the capitals, including London, Paris, and Berlin. She had her first lessons in drawing and music while abroad and learned German and French. Her first exposure to French artists Ingres, Delacroix, Corot, and Courbet was likely at the Paris World's Fair of 1855. Also exhibited at the exhibition were Degas and Pissarro, both of whom would be future colleagues and mentors.
Even though her family objected to her becoming a professional artist, Cassatt began studying painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the early age of fifteen and continued her studies during the years of the American Civil War. Part of their concern may have been Cassatt's exposure to feminist ideas and the bohemian behavior of some of the male students, of which one was Thomas Eakins, later the controversial director of the Academy. About 20% of the students were female. Though most were not bent on making a career of art, they viewed art as a valid means of achievement and recognition, and socially valuable talent. Cassatt, instead, was determined to become a professional artist.
Impatient with the slow pace of instruction and the patronizing attitude of the male students and teachers, she decided to study the old masters on her own. She later said, "There was no teaching" at the Academy. Female students could not use live models (until somewhat later) and the principal training was primarily drawing from casts.
Cassatt decided to end her studies (at that time, no degree was granted). She finally overcame her father's objections and in 1866, she moved to Paris, with her mother and family friends acting as chaperones. Since women could not yet attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, she applied to study privately with masters from the school. Clearly skilled, she was accepted to study with Jean-Leon Gerome, a highly regarded teacher known for his hyper-realistic technique and his depiction of exotic subjects. A few months later Gerome would also accept Eakins as a student. Cassatt augmented her artistic training with daily copying in the Louvre (she obtained the required permit, which was necessary to control the "copyists", usually low-paid women, who daily filled the museum to paint copies for sale). The museum also served as a social meeting place for Frenchmen and American female students, who like Cassatt, were not allowed to attend cafes where the avant-garde socialized. In this manner, fellow artist and friend Elizabeth Gardner met and married famed academic painter William Bouguereau.
Toward the end of 1866, she joined a painting class taught by Charles Chaplin, a noted genre artist. In 1868, Cassatt also studied with artist Thomas Couture, whose subjects were mostly romantic and urban. On trips to the countryside, the students drew from life, particularly the peasants going about their daily activities. In 1868 one of her paintings, A Mandoline Player was accepted for the first time by the selection jury for the Paris Salon. This work is in the Romantic style of Corot and Couture and is one of only two paintings from the first decade of her career that can be documented today. The French art scene was in a process of change, as radical artists such as Courbet and Manet tried to break away from accepted Academic tradition and the Impressionists were in their formative years. Cassatt's friend Eliza Haldeman wrote home that artists "are leaving the Academy style and each seeking a new way, consequently just now everything is Chaos". Cassatt, on the other hand, would continue to work in the traditional manner, submitting works to the Salon for over ten years, with increasing frustration, before striking out with the Impressionists.
Cassatt was one of a relatively small number of American women to become professional artists in the nineteenth century when most women, particularly wealthy ones, did not pursue a career. Her decision to study abroad reflects the strong character she displayed throughout her career. When Cassatt settled in Paris, an artistic revolution was already underway in France. Changes were occurring in the way that artists showed their work to the public, and in the freedom, artists had to choose their own subjects and styles. Cassatt's career developed against the backdrop of these changes.
Mary Cassatt Quotes
• There's only one thing in life for a woman; it's to be a mother.... A woman artist must be ... capable of making primary sacrifices.
• I think that if you shake the tree, you ought to be around when the fruit falls to pick it up.
• Why do people so love to wander? I think the civilized parts of the World will suffice for me in the future.
• I am independent! I can live alone and I love to work.
• I hated conventional art. I began to live.
• I have touched with a sense of art some people – they felt the love and the life. Can you offer me anything to compare to that joy for an artist?
• Americans have a way of thinking work is nothing. Come out and play they say.
• American women have been spoiled, treated and indulged like children; they must wake up to their duties.
• There are two ways for a painter: the broad and easy one or the narrow and hard one.
• If painting is no longer needed, it seems a pity that some of us are born into the world with such a passion for line and color.
• Cezanne is one of the most liberal artists I have ever seen. He prefaces every remark with Pour moi it is so and so, but he grants that everyone may be as honest and as true to nature from their convictions; he doesn't believe that everyone should see alike.
• I have not done what I wanted to, but I tried to make a good fight.
• Degas to Mary Cassatt: Most women paint as though they are trimming hats. Not you.
• Edourd Degas about Mary Cassatt: I don't admit that a woman draws that well!
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