At the Theatre (Woman in a Log)
pastel on paper 25x36in
Museum of Fine Art, Boston
Mary Cassatt by Susan E. Meyer
In many respects, Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas were very different: Mary was vivacious, dynamic, and had a wholesome, optimistic view of life; Degas was given to dark moods, could be very cynical, and was often nasty. Yet, they also had much in common. Both came from families that respected literature, art, and music, and both were extremely cultured themselves. Above all, the two had similar ideas about art: they were committed to portraying their subjects truthfully and were convinced that drawing was at the core of good painting. Both preferred painting the human figure to landscapes and chose urban subjects over rural ones.
Degas tended not to pay much attention to women unless they were highly intelligent. In Mary, he found not only extraordinary intelligence but talent as well. It's true that Degas had been good friends with the gifted artist Berthe Morisot, but only about Mary did he say, "I will not believe that a woman can draw so well."
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