instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Picturing a World

Cassatt's blue chair

I had Jeanette and Edward react to Mary Cassatt’s Portrait of a Little Girl at the 4th Impressionist Exhibition for several reasons. First and obviously, it fell in with a focus on women painters. Second, the tilting of the picture plane, influenced by Japanese woodcuts, was an important upending of pictorial convention at the time, and I wanted to show how the older Edward could in some ways be more open to the avant-garde than a typical art student like Jeanette who was invested in the prevailing conventions at the very time they were about to fall. Third, it offered an opportunity to mention synthetic colorants, a minor motif in the book. Finally, its unsentimental view of childhood fitted nicely into a story inhabited by Jeanette’s little cousin, Laura Vann, and the child model, Angelica Antonielli (whom Amy calls Demonica).

For Anders Zorn's 1884 sentimental knockoff of the pose, click here.

Be the first to comment