This month’s featured painting is Autumn, Portrait of Lydia Cassatt by Mary Cassatt.
Brief Details About the Painting:
- Oil on canvas.
- 104 x 77 cm (40.9 x 30.3 inches).
- Completed 1880.
- Location: Musée des Beaux-Arts de la ville de Paris.
Use this as an opportunity to test your ability to analyze master paintings. In the comments below, share what you think are the top 3 most important aspects of the painting. These could relate to areas such as composition, color, value, progress, brushwork, subject, or symbolism. Once you have done that, you can compare your thoughts with my own in the drop-down below.
Click here to see my thoughts.
- I always find Impressionist portraits interesting. The Impressionists didn’t focus on carefully rendering the skin tones and meticulously capturing the subject’s forms and anatomy. Yet they were able to capture the subject’s likeness and nature. They also placed more emphasis on the environment rather than focusing all attention on the subject and their identity. This painting is a perfect example. The surrounding landscape and the woman’s clothing compete with the woman for your attention. It’s a painting about the woman in this environment rather than the woman herself.
- The subject’s clothing melts into nature’s autumn colors. Her clothing is both distinct, yet part of this larger area.
- The lightest colors represent the subject’s face. The darkest colors represent her hat and scarf. Their close proximity creates a striking contrast that draws our attention.
- Notice the use of simplification. The trees are conveyed with nothing more than a few dark shapes and dabs of light color.
- Cassatt painted the bench with rough green shapes and a few loosely scumbled highlights. It might appear sloppy by itself, but it fits within the overall style of the painting. It doesn’t matter if you paint a certain part well if it doesn’t fit with everything else!