Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman

Judith Barter

Published by Harry N. Abrams, 1998
ISBN 10: 0810940892 / ISBN 13: 9780810940895
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Synopsis: Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) holds a unique place in the history of art. One of the few women artists to succeed professionally in her era, she was the only American invited to exhibit with the French Impressionists. This handsome volume, richly illustrated with paintings, prints, and pastels spanning Cassatt's entire career, accompanies a major traveling exhibition that opens at The Art Institute of Chicago in October 1998.

Essays trace Cassatt's development from her early influences through her critical role in bringing Old Master and Impressionist art to the United States. The superb colorplates clearly demonstrate why Cassatt is considered one of North America's most important artists.

Supplementary works by Cassatt's contemporaries are reproduced along with numerous photographs and the first complete list of exhibitions in which Cassatt participated in her lifetime. The exhibition travels to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Judith A. Barter is Field-McCormick Curator of American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago.

George T. M. Shackelford is curator of European paintings, and Erica E. Hirshler is associate curator in the Department of American Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Kevin Sharp and Andrew Walker work in the Department of American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago.

Review: Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman is the extensive, beautifully produced, coffee-table-size catalog of an exhibition of the same name at the Art Institute of Chicago in the fall of 1998. It is filled with 100 color plates and scores of other pictures, including Cassatt family snapshots, images of works by Cassatt's teachers and influential associates, postcards, and other related personal and historical items. Included too are six essays, on topics ranging from Cassatt's "modern education" to her intelligent guidance of the wealthy American art-lovers who later bequeathed their impressive impressionist collections to several major United States museums. While each has much to offer, Kevin Sharp's essay "How Mary Cassatt Became an American Artist" is particularly interesting and has great narrative flair. The sections on Cassatt's alternately infuriating and gratifying relationship with the legendary Paris dealer Paul Durand-Ruel are page-turners.

Readers who are mostly lookers, and who intend to spend their time with the large color plates, will also be amply rewarded. These do full justice to Cassatt's draftsmanship, color, and design, while reaffirming her as the warmly empathetic, but thoroughly unsentimental, observer of young mothers and their plump, beloved babies. The book has but one tiny defect, which will irritate only the most casual readers: its captions for the most part give only minimally identifying information for the people, paintings, and places pictured. When the plates and illustrations are not adjacent to the germane parts of the text, readers must peruse the essays in order to understand their significance. --Peggy Moorman

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Title: Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Publication Date: 1998
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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