MARY CASSATT: influential women of all time – Early Life and Reign, social and political life, major works and death

0
45
Just2know : There is no knowledge that is not power
Just2know : There is no knowledge that is not power

< Previous | Contents | Next >

in the Sino-Japanese War (1894–95), the young Guangxu emperor, under the influence of a group of reformers, put through a number of radical proposals designed to reno- vate and modernize the Chinese government and to eliminate corruption. But conservative officials, who again used the military to institute a coup, collected around Cixi. The new reforms were reversed, and Cixi resumed the regency. Most historians believe that China’s last chance for peaceful change thus ended.

The following year Cixi began to back those officials who were encouraging the anti-foreign Boxer rebels. In 1900 the Boxer Rebellion reached its peak; some 100 foreigners were killed, and the foreign legations in Beijing were sur- rounded. However, a coalition of foreign troops soon captured the capital, and Cixi was forced to flee the city and accept humiliating peace terms. Returning to Beijing in 1902, she finally began to implement many of the innova- tions that had been reversed in 1898, although the Guangxu emperor no longer participated in the government. The day before Cixi died, Guangxu’s death was announced. Since then, it was generally believed that the emperor had been poisoned, but that fact was not substantiated until 2008 when a report was issued by Chinese researchers and police officials confirming that the emperor had been deliberately poisoned with arsenic. Although the report did not address who may have ordered his death—and there never has been any hard evidence of culpability—suspicion long has pointed toward the Empress Dowager.

MARY CASSATT

(b. May 22, 1844, Allegheny City [now part of Pittsburgh], Pa., U.S.—d. June 14, 1926, Château de Beaufresne, near Paris, France)

T

T

he American painter and printmaker Mary Cassatt, who was part of the group of Impressionists working

in and around Paris, is noteworthy for her skillful and tender portraits of almost exclusively women and children.

Cassatt was the daughter of a banker and lived in Europe for five years as a young girl. She was tutored privately in art in Philadelphia and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1861–65, but she preferred a less academic approach and in 1866 traveled to Europe to study with such European painters as Jean-Léon Gérôme and Thomas Couture. Her first major showing was at the Paris Salon of 1872; four more annual Salon exhibitions followed.

In 1874 Cassatt chose Paris as her permanent residence and established her studio there. She shared with the Impressionists an interest in experiment and in using bright colours inspired by the out-of-doors. Edgar Degas became her friend; his style and that of Gustave Courbet inspired her own. Degas was known to admire her drawing especially, and at his request she exhibited with the Impressionists in 1879 and joined them in shows in 1880, 1881, and 1886. Like Degas, Cassatt showed great mastery of drawing, and both artists preferred unposed asymmet- rical compositions. Cassatt also was innovative and inventive in exploiting the medium of pastels.

Initially, Cassatt painted mostly figures of friends or relatives and their children in the Impressionist style. After the great exhibition of Japanese prints held in Paris in 1890, she brought out her series of 10 coloured prints— e.g., Woman Bathing and The Coiffure—in which the influence of the Japanese masters Utamaro and Toyokuni is apparent. In these etchings, combining aquatint, dry- point, and soft ground, she brought her printmaking technique to perfection. Her emphasis shifted from form to line and pattern. The principal motif of her mature and perhaps most familiar period is mothers caring for small children—e.g., The Bath (c. 1892) and Mother and Child (1899).

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here