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Changing the roles of women as seen through art

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Boston College

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  1. Introduction
  2. Mary Cassatt
  3. The broken down figures of the people in the background
  4. The tighter brush strokes
  5. Impressionist paintings
  6. The colors used in the painting
  7. The sense of closeness
  8. The role of women in the late 1800s
  9. Conclusion

Mary Stevenson Cassatt was a unique woman in many respects. Her family's wealth allowed her to travel extensively during her childhood and eventually move to France to pursue painting with prominent French painter Edgar Degas. More extraordinary than that however, is that she was just one of three females to join the French Impressionists, and above all, the only American.

[...] The brush strokes used to form the woman in the foreground of the painting are somewhat loose, but not as painterly as Monet's work. The railing that she leans on is painted with long, visible strokes which also lends to its two dimensionality. Often times, Impressionist paintings featured aspects of Japanese prints such as large areas of flat color. The black of the woman's dress seems to be just a large blotch of black, which flattens the woman and contrasts her modeled face. [...]

[...] This is significant for the time, the last quarter of the nineteenth century, because women were not viewed as having an intellectual role in the world. The woman portrayed in this picture, however, is taking an active role in watching the performance. She is so enthralled in the play that she seems not to notice the viewer who, from the point of view given, seems to be sitting directly beside her. Additionally, the choice of this tight point of view conveys two things. [...]

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