During the last quarter of the 19th century, women artists broke through the male-dominated environment of painting and declared their independence! Among the leaders of these intrepid female artists was American expatriate Mary Cassatt! Cassatt recognized that women were still restricted in terms of subject matter—they were “allowed/encouraged” to focus their compositional gaze to domestic scenes for which they were “particularly well suited”. Cassatt intuitively understood that she could be free and independent as an artist when she would cast her gaze solely within the confines of the daily life associated with her family. Cassatt embraced images of Motherhood (even though she never had children herself), intellectual pursuits like reading, and the nurturing of children by giving them baths, etc. The American expatriate was thrilled to be given that voice! Cassatt exclaimed: “I am independent! I can live and I love to work…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?”
What are your thoughts on women finally being allowed their “artistic voice” within the rarified world of art making as exemplified by Mary Cassatt?
Mary Cassatt, Self Portrait, 1880
Mary Cassett, Maternity, 1890
Mary Cassatt, The Bath, 1893