Degas, variations on a theme… Mary Cassatt in the Louvre, c. 1879-80
Mary Cassatt came to Paris from America to study art. And so she did. She studied, she observed and she painted. Degas saw a portrait by her hanging in the Salon and it is said he felt an instant affinity with her. She, in turn, had admired his pastels through the window of Durand-Ruel’s gallery. “I used to go and flatten my nose against that window and absorb all I could of his art. It changed my life.” …And so began a 40 year friendship based on mutual admiration and independence.
By 1877 Degas convinced her to exhibit with the Independents (begun by the Impressionists) and recalls her reaction:
“It was at that moment that Degas persuaded me to send no more to the Salon and to exhibit with his friends in the group of Impressionists. I accepted with joy. At last I could work with complete independence without concerning myself with the eventual judgment of a jury. I already knew who were my true masters. I admired Manet, Courbet and Degas. I hated conventional art. I began to live.”
Degas produced a series of pastels, drawings and etchings of Mary at the Louvre absorbed in looking at the art of such a magnificent place.
Elegant * Graceful * Amusing * Charming