Mary Cassatt: The Bath

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) was a very well-known and well respected female Impressionist artist. Cassatt was heavily influenced by Edgar Degas, and she often exhibited her works alongside his. She was an American artist who later moved to Paris to study French and Italian masterworks. Because she was a woman, Cassatt could not frequent cafés like men could. Thus, she painted very different subject matters, often women and children. Cassatt’s The Bath is a good example of her works.

Mary Cassatt, The Bath, 1892

In The Bath, shows a mother taking care of her child, washing the child’s feet. The consolidation and solidity of the figures of the mother and of the child greatly contrasts the flowery designs in the foreground and in the background. In this painting, it is evident that Cassatt drew from Degas’ influence in its composition as well as from the influence of Japanese prints in its blocks of pastel colors. However, the painting’s design and the painting as a whole is very original.

One part of the painting that stands out to me is the mother’s dress. I love the design and color of it, but I also think that it is too long. It is so long that it makes the mother look like she has very long legs… at least very long thighs. You can see where her legs bend and where her knees start (the child’s hand is also placed at her knee) and to me her thighs seem too long…

I really love this painting (yes, I am aware that I say that a lot!). I think that the pastel colors that she chose, the act that she chose to depict, as well as the domestic setting of the painting really emphasize the tenderness and the breadth of a mother’s love and care for her child. By looking at this painting, I can almost feel the mother’s love for her child.

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