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"Mary Cassatt at Work" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art



Born into a wealthy Pittsburgh family, Cassatt was both privileged and constrained by society, but she was also a rule-breaker: "She knew from a young age that she wanted to be a working artist, not someone's wife."


The 130 paintings, prints, and pastels are mainly of everyday scenes of women "working" at various activities, and particularly at caring for children, including works that have not been publicly displayed before. 


Of particular interest to me was the insight into Cassatt's printmaking process. In one large gallery room, along with some of Cassatt's prints (in various stages of the proofs and versions), there is a very good 3-minute video showing Cassatt's printmaking process.



Cassatt's 1873 painting " A Balcony in Seville"demonstrates her observational skill and her study of European  art. 



Remarkable for me was seeing that just five or six years later, as shown in Cassatt's exceptionally beautiful 1878-79 painting "On a Balcony" (shown below), her oil paintings and pastel paintings reveal Cassatt's  freer, more expressive and confident style, and her embracing of Impressionism. She was developing her "reputation as an Impressionist artist interpreting modern life."



Try to catch the wonderful exhibit "Mary Cassatt at Work", running till September 8th at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, www.philamuseum.org

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