Arts Everyday Living: Happy Birthday Impressionist Mary Cassatt—A Love for Japanese Art

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY CASSATT! 

 

This Wednesday, May 22, is American Impressionist Mary Cassatt’s 180th birthday, so we are celebrating this week with her works of art. Today we will be highlighting some of Cassatt’s prints inspired by the major 1890 exhibition of Japanese art in Paris. Among the artists Cassatt viewed was Japanese master Utamaro and she was probably influenced by his use of color, form, line, and composition. Utamaro’s A Young Girl Offering Tea to Another Woman is shown below.

 

Kitagawa Utamaro (1753?-1806), A Young Girl Offering Tea to Another Woman, c. 1797, Color woodblock print; oban, Clarence Buckingham Collection, Art Insitute of Chicago, Illinois

Title: Young Girl Offering Tea to Another Woman, c. 1797

Artist: Kitagawa Utamaro (1753?-1806)

 

Like Utamaro, Cassatt focused on domestic scenes of women pursuing activities of everyday living, from the fashionably dressed friends engaged in the formal ritual of tea,

 

Mary Cassatt, Afternoon Tea Party, 1890-1891, color drypoint & aquatint with touches of gold metallic paint on laid paper, Rosenwald Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Title: Afternoon Tea Party, 1890-1891

 

to a woman enjoying a leisurely moment, fan in hand.

 

Mary Cassatt, The Lamp, 1890-1891, color drypoint and aquatint on laid paper, Chester Dale Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The Lamp, 1890-1891

 

Although Mary Cassatt spent most of her adult years in France, she never forgot the unique strumming of the banjo, a memory of her childhood in the United States. Here she portrays an adult and girl concentrating on the sound as well as rhythm of an instrument with roots in Africa and developed by African-American slaves.

 

Mary Cassatt, The Banjo Lesson, 1893, color drypoint & aquatint with monoprint, Gift of Mrs. Jane C. Carey, addition to the Addie Burr Clark Memorial Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Title: The Banjo Lesson, c. 1893

 

The Omnibus is set  in Paris, where a  wife, baby, and nurse are traveling across the Seine River, which can be viewed through the windows. Yet, the three seem oblivious of the expanse and bridge behind them. The mother looking ahead, her attention perhaps fixed on an unseen passenger or occurrence, in contrast to the French equivalent of a nanny who is completely absorbed in playing with her charge, likely still too young to realize the innate silliness of his or her fancy bonnet.

 

Mary Cassatt, In the Omnibus, 1890-1891, color drypoint & aquatint on laid paper, Rosenwald Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Title: In the Omnibus, 1890-1891

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the public domain, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The National Gallery of Art does not endorse or approve use of the above image or any of the material on this website. Nor has the National Gallery of Art participated in any projects utilizing the said image.

CCO Public Domain Designation

The Art Institute of Chicago does not endorse or approve use of the above image or any of the material on this website. Nor has the Art Institute of Chicago participated in any projects utilizing the said image.

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