Mary Cassatt Joins the Fort Worth Museum

Mary Cassatt (1844–1926)
Woman Standing Holding a Fan, 1878-1879
Tempera and oil on canvas
Fort Worth, Amon Carter Museum
of American Art
Photo : Amon Carter Museum

14/11/11 - Acquisition - Fort Worth, Amon Carter Museum of American Art - Strangely, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art which, as the name says, holds an extensive collection of 19th and 20th century American paintings, did not own a single canvas by Mary Cassatt before now. This is no longer the case. Last 21 October an elegant Woman Standing Holding a Fan joined the museum alongside paintings by Frederick Childe Hassam (1859-1935) and William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), other artists influenced by Impressionism.

Purchased from the Wildenstein Gallery in New York, this acquisition is a way of celebrating the museum’s fiftieth anniversary. The canvas dates from 1878-1879, when Mary Cassatt became part of the Impressionist circle, befriended by Berthe Morisot, Pissarro and Degas who helped her, notably, to learn new techniques : in fact, this painting is executed partly in tempera, a rare instance in her work. The subject, however, is characteristic of this artist who liked to surprise her feminine figures in the privacy of their everyday life ; at this point, Cassatt had not yet started her series of mothers with child. Here, she describes a woman arranging her dress so she can sit down. The figure is lit from the back or, à contre-jour, and the perspective focused from below, da sotto in su, in an almost abstract space, defined by solid blocks of red, white and blue. Although the picture seems to be rapidly brushed in, the face is carefully traced, showing that Cassatt did not totally abandon the precision of the drawing. Interestingly, an inscription on the canvas stretcher shows that it was once in the hands of Ambroise Vollard.

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, mardi 15 novembre 2011

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