Art History 101: Mary Cassatt the Impressionist!

Welcome! I hope you are ready to learn many facts about a famous artist from a big Art History nerd. Growing up I hating my history classes and could never remember any of the dates or time periods. In high school I once won an award from my World History teacher. It was in that moment, confused and standing on a stage holding an award, I realized I loved history! Maybe I wasn’t the best at remembering dates or recalling the names of famous leaders, but I had fun learning facts from the past and how they relate to today. I can guarantee we have all felt that way about something in our lives. Whether it be history, math, or even public speaking. Maybe you have seen a child enjoying a subject they struggle with and encouraged them to keep going, just like my teacher did for me all those years ago. Whether or not history is your forte, I hope you can find some interesting facts to share with your kids around the dinner table or impress your fellow adults at your next PTA meeting.

Art History is the study of how art influences and how it has influenced history throughout time. While I could write an essay paper or two (or 50) on the different time periods in art, today I want to talk about one artist in particular: Mary Cassatt. Now, imagine traveling back in time to the 1800s during the high art period in France. While everyone was busy painting realistic scenes of the everyday person, like Corbet and Grant Wood, a movement arose called Impressionism. These artists showcase blurry paintings covered in thick layers of paint and pastel colors, nothing like this had been seen before. To become an Impressionist you must be invited by the current members, like a man named Edward Degas. Now, let's head over to America. It’s 1844 and a young girl named Mary Cassatt was just born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. She was born into a wealthy family and traveled all over the world, which was uncommon for a female child at this time. From a young age she enjoyed painting and began her art studies at the age of 15. Around 1865, Cassatt traveled to Europe in hopes to further her art education. In France she studied under other Realistic painters, but because she was a woman she could not use live models to paint from or travel to cafes to study live people, like the men could. So, she left her studies and began painting what she saw around her: women and their children. During this time Edward Degas, the Impressionist, had invited her to study the ways of Impressionism. This is what she is most known for today, beautiful paintings of women and children using thick paint layers and pastel colors!

Now, lets head back to 2022 where Cassatt's paintings have been used by many, including us here at Fibo, to show the love mothers and their children have for each other. Cassatt painted these paintings in a relaxed, natural style. Unlike the portraits during her time which showed ridged and stiff paintings of children looking directly at the viewer (kind of creepy). I'd like to focus on those images of mothers and children showing their love. In honor of Cassatt, Fibo has created a wonderful art project for your little ones and a fun (shorter) Art History in 60sec Video to teach them about this amazing artist. I hope you will join us for these, and more, interactive projects in the weeks to come!