To read more about Charlotte Mason picture study and to see the other picture study aids I have available, click here.
No woman has the right to draw like that.EdwarD Degas, upon seeing Cassatt’s “Two Women Picking Fruit” for the first time
I get a lot of searches for various artists on my website, some more than others. Most of them are men, some of them from the Renaissance, but one female name that pops up repeatedly is Mary Cassatt. Given the subject matter for which she is most well-known – that being of women and children – it’s not surprising on a site that caters to homeschooling families. I like to think, though, that it’s not just her subject matter that draws people to her. Her talent and skill and the way she forged her own path in a world that expected her to live a different life than the one she chose can also serve as inspiration for anyone.
Ironically, despite her subject matter being primarily of a maternal theme, she never married and never had children. Though she was born in Pennsylvania, she chose to live the majority of her life in France, immersing herself in the world of Impressionism that was taking Paris by storm. And while she was born into a very wealthy family and didn’t need to rely on commissions to put bread on the table, she still treated her artistic pursuits as a professional might. She improved her skill, experimented with different media, and learned from other artists around her.
At the same time, the fact that she didn’t need to rely on a steady income meant that she could paint what she wanted. Even while not pursuing a life of motherhood for herself, she saw the beauty of these relationships, and she was able to bring in a unique (to the art world, at least) perspective when she painted them. I also like to think that because she was a woman, her sitters were far more comfortable living out their domestic scenes for her than they might be with a male artist. Because of this, she has bequeathed the world a rich treasure-trove of glimpses of domestic life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from the point of view of a woman.
For those who have searched for her on my site in the past but haven’t found her, I’m happy to announce today that I am now offering a Picture Study Aid and art prints for Mary Cassatt! This 25-page Picture Study Aid includes a summary of the life of American Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt, key topics about seven of her artworks (see below), seven printable versions of the paintings (without artist names or titles) with the PDF (or professional art prints with the printed book), and a self-portrait of the artist in the printed version of the guide.
The pieces covered include:
- Offering the Panal to the Bullfighter (1873)
- In the Loge (1878)
- The Tea (ca. 1880)
- The Letter (1890-1891)
- Young Woman Picking Fruit (1891)
- The Child’s Bath (1893)
- Young Mother Sewing (1900)
I include a brief overview of Charlotte Mason picture study at the beginning of the file; however, I have also written posts here on the blog about why picture study is important and how we do it in our home and homeschool co-op. You can also find living books about Mary Cassatt to supplement your picture study time in the Living Art Book Archive.
You can get your copy at the link at the end of the post!
This guide is by no means an exhaustive analysis or study of each piece, which is intentional. I tried to keep it all very simple in the spirit of there being:
…no talk about schools of painting, little about style; consideration of these matters comes in later life, the first and most important thing is to know the pictures themselves. As in a worthy book we leave the author to tell his own tale, so do we trust a picture to tell its tale through the medium the artist gave it. In the region of art as else-where we shut out the middleman.CHARLOTTE MASON (VOL 6 PG 216)
This Picture Study Aid is meant to offer basic information about the artists as well as ready answers should your student ask about a particular aspect of a piece and the explanation isn’t readily evident. Ms. Mason emphasized not focusing on strict academic discourse when doing picture study but rather simply exposing students to the art itself:
His education should furnish him with whole galleries of mental pictures, pictures by great artists old and new;––…––in fact, every child should leave school with at least a couple of hundred pictures by great masters hanging permanently in the halls of his imagination, to say nothing of great buildings, sculpture, beauty of form and colour in things he sees. Perhaps we might secure at least a hundred lovely landscapes too,––sunsets, cloudscapes, starlight nights. At any rate he should go forth well furnished because imagination has the property of magical expansion, the more it holds the more it will hold.CHARLOTTE MASON (VOL 6 PG 43)