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Mary Cassatt | La Festa in Barca / The Boating Party, 1893/1894

This bold composition reveals the influence of the flat, patterned surfaces, simplified color, and unusual angles of Japanese prints, which enjoyed a huge vogue in Paris in the late 1800s.
The dark figure of the man compresses the picture onto the flat plane of the canvas, and the horizon is pushed to the top, collapsing a sense of distance. Our higher vantage point gives us an oblique view into the boat. Its form is divided into decorative shapes by the intersection of its horizontal supports.

After 1893, Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) began to spend many summers on the Mediterranean coast at Antibes.
Under its intense sun, she began to experiment with harder, more decorative color. Here, citron and blue carve strong arcs that divide the picture into assertive, almost abstract, shapes.

This picture, with its bold geometry and decorative patterning of the surface, positions Cassatt with such post–impressionist painters as Gauguin and Van Gogh.

This painting, one of her most ambitious, was the centerpiece of Cassatt's first solo exhibition in the United States in 1895. Her contacts with wealthy friends in the United States did much to bring avant–garde French painting into this country. | © National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Mary Cassatt | Self-portrait, 1878 | Metropolitan Museum of Art

"The Boating Party" is an oil painting by American artist Mary Cassatt. It has been in the collection of the National Gallery of Art since 1963.
Cassatt painted The Boating Party during the winter of 1893-1894 in Antibes, on the French Riviera. Cassatt spent January and February 1894 at the Villa "La Cigaronne", in Cap d'Antibes with her mother.
Cassatt was 49 years old when she painted The Boating Party.
1893 had been a successful year for her: she had completed the mural Modern Woman, commissioned for the Woman's Building at Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition; her exhibition in 1893 at Durand-Ruel's gallery had been well received (footnote: the exhibition contained 98 items); and the French state had decided to purchase one of her paintings for the Musée du Luxembourg.

Influences - Japanese woodblock prints

In 1890 Cassatt visited the great Japanese Print exhibition at the ecole de Beaux-arts in Paris.
Mary Cassatt owned Japanese prints by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753–1806).
The exhibition at Durand-Ruel of Japanese art proved the most important influence on Cassatt.


Frederick A. Sweet suggests that Cassatt may have been inspired by Édouard Manet's Boating from 1874.

Edouard Manet | Boating, 1874

Boating was exhibited at the Impressionist Exhibition of 1879, where it was not well received. Cassatt however, convinced her friend Louisine Havemeyer to buy it.
Much of the work from the Havemeyer collection was bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum, but some works were left to the Havemeyer children and have since ended up elsewhere. | © Wikipedia

Questa composizione audace rivela l'influenza delle superfici piatte e modellate, del colore semplificato e degli angoli insoliti delle stampe giapponesi, che godevano di grande voga a Parigi alla fine del 1800.
La figura scura dell'uomo comprime il quadro sul piano piatto della tela, e l'orizzonte viene spinto verso l'alto, facendo crollare il senso della distanza.
Il nostro punto di osservazione più alto ci offre una vista obliqua sulla barca. La sua forma è divisa in forme decorative dall'intersezione dei suoi supporti orizzontali.

Dopo il 1893, Cassatt iniziò a trascorrere molte estati sulla costa mediterranea ad Antibes. Sotto il suo sole intenso, iniziò a sperimentare con colori più duri e decorativi.
Qui, il cedro e il blu scolpiscono forti archi che dividono l'immagine in forme decise, quasi astratte. Questa immagine, con la sua geometria audace ed il motivo decorativo della superficie, posiziona Cassatt con pittori post-impressionisti come Gauguin e Van Gogh.

Questo dipinto, uno dei suoi più ambiziosi, fu il fulcro della prima mostra personale di Cassatt negli Stati Uniti nel 1895.
I suoi contatti con ricchi amici negli Stati Uniti fecero molto per portare la pittura francese d'avanguardia in questo paese.