Edgar Degas And His Influence On The Art Of Mary Cassatt

1608 words - 6 pages

Mary Stevenson Cassatt's Miss Mary Ellison (1880) and Edgar-Hilaire-Germain Degas's Mademoiselle Malo (1877) are two paintings that, when compared and contrasted, shows numbers of influences that Degas had on Mary Cassatt's art. Both of these paintings are portraits done in tbe standard ¾ point of view. Even at a mere glance, it is easy to see the striking similarities between the two portraits. It is not too farfetched to assume that Degas had a lot of influence on Mary Cassatt's work because it is known that he was one of her biggest inspirations (Wallis, 14). Furthermore, even within the Impressionist group the bond that Degas and Cassatt shared was an important one to her, since she looked up to him as a model artist (Englemann, 80).
Mary Cassatt was born in Philadelphia to Robert Simpson Cassatt and Katherine Johnston Cassatt in1844 (Mathews, 9). Her father was a wealthy banker and her mother was well-educated and spoke french fluently (Wallis,14). They were both part of the upper circles of the Pittsburg Society (Mathews ,9). As such, they had a vested interest in providing their children with the best of educational and cultural experiences (Mathews, 9) Cassatt's interest in art, seems to originate from a 5 year sojourn that the family took in 1851 (Wallis, 14). Although only a mere child at the time, it seems the expatriate life appealed the young Cassatt; furthermore, the sights she saw must have deeply affected her because she would soon return to the life abroad (Mathews,9) As a teenager she studied art privately and later as an adult she attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine arts (Wallis, 14). She was able to practice art and complete her studies with the support of her father's finances. Although he did not support her choice to pursue a career in art he agreed to let her focus on her art because of her persistence and strong will (Wallis, 14). At around 1877 She was invited to s stop submitting her artwork to the salon and instead join and submit with the independents/impressionist's group by Edgar Degas (Mathews, 35). She was also the only American female artist to exhibit with the Impressionists.
Edgar Degas was a Parisian painter; much like Cassatt, his father was also a wealthy banker (Wallis, 18). He was born in 1832 (Spate, 6) His father, the banker, was also an avid art collector; this helped stimulate the Degas's interest in art at an early age (Wallis, 19) Like Cassatt, his family was from the higher middle class, and as such he was raised to be a cultivated, cultured, Parisian social elite (Spate, 6). However, unlike Cassatt, Degas did not originally study art; he studied law. In 1853 he received his baccalaureate and according to his father's wishes studied law (Wallis, 18). Eventually his father agreed to let Degas study art and so he did. Before joining up with the Impressionist, Degas mostly vested his time into classically themed paintings and portraiture (Wallis, 20). Eventually, he was one...

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