Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mary Cassatt- The child's bath- a study

I have always found copying from 'the masters' very enlightening. It is one thing to look at a painting and a completely different experience trying to make a copy. 
And what you may ask did I learn from this one? 
The composition could be a text book study. The contrast of verticals and horizontals, the diagonal stripes that create a strong sense of movement, the play of warm and cool, the limited palette. The handle of the jug repeating the angle of the child's arm, highlights a circular rhythm that starts at the  heads, down the mother's arm, from one leg to the next, to the jug, to the child's arm, back to the heads. These connections keep our eye moving around the painting and they soften the impact of all the verticals, horizontals and diagonals. I believe this  rhythm also says something about the relationship portrayed. The inward, exclusive focus of that relationship at that moment. And the two heads as one. (and so from and content are in complete harmony with each other)
Another interesting aspect is in the handling of color. The child's skin tones , the mother's dress , the jug and  everything that is in the foreground is mostly cool. The background is warm, which generally goes against the 'rules'. Cassatt has compensated by graying down the warm colors so that they recede, and the blueish tones come forward and shine away.
Obviously, one wonders, if Cassatt really planned it all so perfectly . Did she think about all the rules, the meaning of the relationship , bla bla, while she was painting, or had the rules become her 'intuition' after all the years of practice, and she just modified things until they 'felt' right? I would think the second. Knowledge at some point becomes intuition. Don't you think?

My dear friends, thank you for all the supportive and lovely comments after my last post. It means so much to me that you take the time and write your thoughts.



Carole Reid said...

My goodness Annamaria, your study proved to be enlightening for me as well. Thank you. Mary Cassatt's work is some of my favourite. Her children's faces never fail to make the observer sigh in delight. xo

renilde said...

dear Annamaria, 'analyzing'becomes a kind of 'intuition' too after some time, after enjoying a work at the first glance, one sees how the colours work together, the lines, the composition, how it all works together to get a certain mood and why a work is so 'intriguing', looking carefully at every part of it, the same way one can look closer at a real landscape or an interior etc.
and as you say yes, knowledge becomes intuition, xx

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

Mary is my husband's favorite artist, he espcially likes her lithographs and there always seems to be an art book around the house open to one of her works. For his birthday I found an old copy of her autobiography for him. I read it too, and its fascinating. Her friendship with Degas is discussed at length and her influence on the great art collectors.
She did alot for art besides being a great one herself!

annamaria potamiti said...

Thank you for letting me know Julie,our library doesn't carry a copy of her autobiography, I will look for it elsewhere. What a treat! I love autobiographies more than anything!XX

Kathleen Maunder said...

I love Mary Cassatt very much--the beauty in her painting and the emotion in the relationships.

I believe that much of the creation in wonderful literature and art is intuitive rather than conscious effort. The perfect intuition of those we consider to be masters becomes our knowledge.

Francesca said...

i have often wondered if artists added lots of 'rules' and symbols to their work on purpose, or whether it just happens.
i like to think the latter too. x

Sophie Munns said...

lovely images Annamaria... just passing through ...at airport with a few spare mins to catch up with bloggy friends.