This radically new study redefines the American artist Mary Cassatt's status in the Parisian avant-garde and in American art-- placing her work in the wider context of nineteenth-century feminism and art theory. Cassatt's art explores a New Woman's perspective on the spaces of modernity: at the theatre, in the drawing-room and garden, in the studio. Admired by Degas-- who invited her to show with the Impressionists in 1877-- Cassatt's work reveals her profound study of Old Masters and keen responses to contemporary French and Spanish painters. Griselda Pollock puts a new emphasis on Cassatt's interest in Manet and her influence on American collections of French modernism. She also argues that Cassatt's experimentation with etching and pastel from the late 1880s enabled her to represent women and children without sentimentality but with a deepening awareness of a complex psychological charge. 184 illus., 55 in color.
Modern study of Mary Cassatt has been largely, although not entirely, based upon the faultless work of Adelyn Breeskin, Frederick Sweet, and Nancy Mowll Mathews. Now the eight contributors to this huge volume have added truly monumental data on the life and work of Cassatt and to Impressionist art history in general. Six independent essays reveal new aspects of the artist's work and personality. The standout essay is Judith Barter's "Mary Cassatt: Themes, Sources and the Modern Woman." Others cover Cassatt's early realist style, her relationship to Degas, her American exhibitions, and Cassatt's impact upon the formation of art collections in the United States. In addition, there are 300 illustrations, including 124 excellent color plates, and a 25-page illustrated chronology with maps. Essential. British feminist art historian Pollock (Mary Cassatt, LJ 2/15/81) here offers her second book on Cassatt. Part of the respected British "World of Art" paperback series, the book is compact, well illustrated (184 images, 55 in color), and inexpensive. Technical art history terms explained for the introductory reader confirm this as intended for the general public and large libraries. As the back cover makes plain, it is also meant to be a radically new study redefining Cassatt in "the Parisian avant-garde and in American art." But the discussion too often descends to the polemical and cannot be depended upon for factual accuracy; there are sources but no traditional footnotes. The undercurrent of distaste for Cassatt's country of birth and family origins is unnecessary. An optional purchase.--Mary Hamel-Schwulst, Towson Univ., MD