Mary joins the Impressionists, 2019,
Acrylic on canvas, 24"x 18" (61 x 48 cm)
Edgar's resting dancer, 2019,
Acrylic on canvas, 24" x 18" (61 x 48 cm)
On April 10, 1879, Mary Cassatt exhibited for the first time with the Independent Artists now known as the Impressionists. She joined at the invitation of Edgar Degas with whom she shared a mutual admiration and whose studio was 5 min from hers.
In 1877, her entries were rejected by the Salon and in 1878, her painting Little Girl in a blue chair was rejected by the World Fair Jury. That was it! Mary Cassatt swore she would never submit to a jury again nor accept awards. She remained true to her word and never was in a jury herself.
Edgar Degas had advised her on the background of this painting and the model was a daughter of a friend of his. He also had offered Cassatt the little dog on the original painting. Therefore this painting is the best example of their friendship.
It was a rocky one, both being blunt and strong minded. Degas said of Cassatt, “I am not willing to admit that a woman can draw that well.” But he recognized her “infinite talent” and admired her work.
Edgar Degas is considered as the painter of dancers and indeed they represent more than half of his works. He didn’t care particularly about dance as an art form (nor he enjoyed horse racing), but used these themes to capture movement and reality. Indeed even though he was in association with the Impressionists, he considered himself a realist calling himself an “intransigent”.
In Resting Dancer, created with gouache and pastel in 1879, Degas presents a tired dancer and the reality of the backstage. His comment on the POST is based on his quote “In art, nothing should look like chance, not even movement".
Mary Cassatt, who was close to him especially at that time, comments with enthusiast. She once declared that Degas’ art “changed my life. I saw art then, as I wanted to see it.
The art critic, Joris-Karl Huysmans an early supporter of the Impressionists, praised his work stating, ”how true, how alive it is! The expressions (…) the boredom (…) are emphasized with the pointedness of an analyst who is always both cruel and subtle”.
Resting Dancer sold for $37M in 2008 and is up to now the most expensive artwork by Degas.
Sources : Impressionist Quartet: The Intimate Genius of Manet and Morisot, Degas and Cassatt, Jeffrey Meyers, 2005