Mother and Child created by Mary Cassatt in 1890 is a great example of Impressionist art. Cassatt had this obsession with painting mothers interacting with their children, so this is a typical Mary Cassatt piece. This painting embraces the impressionism style with noticeable brush strokes and emphasis on the different amount of changing light and dark throughout the painting. The painting uses a majority of low values in the center of the image, and higher values around the outside and in the corners. The child appears to be the main focus of the painting because he/she is more detailed than the mother is. However, the mother is still more detailed than the entire background of the painting.
While looking through the book for an artwork from the Impressionist art era I stumbled across this one and could not leave it. It really drew me in with its subject matter but when further examining it I believe it draws me in more because of what the artist did to make it work. The painting Mother and Child shows the intimate contact between a mother and child after a bath and just before the child falls asleep. The drowsy face and flushed cheeks of the child and the weight of his/her limbs have this natural quality to them, even though the space occupied by the figure seems so flattened. The solidly modeled forms of the hands and faces contrast with the strong brushstrokes of the lower part of the mother’s dress and the background.
The noticeable line work done by the artist helps contains certain objects throughout the piece. We can see a small hint of line around the mother and child’s body, which contains their shape. Cassatt has also used the brush strokes as line work in my opinion. At first glance we almost have the sense of an unfinished painting, as the painting is rough. However we do get the sense of individual shapes between the mother and child and then the background and the things contained in the background. With the flattened image look, there is no great sense of depth in this painting. It is as if everything is crammed close together. However there is a slight sense of depth as you can see that the mother has the depth of her sitting with the child in her lap and Cassatt also did enough of an illusion to give the sense that she is in front of everything behind her and not on the same plane. I also would like out point out that Cassatt has worked into her image the pyramid effect. We can see this in the positioning of the mother and child. Starting with her head working down to her dress we get the effect of the pyramid.
The colors in this piece were very striking to me. Her use of color was very effective. From the value to the intensity of each colored used was perfected in my opinion. When examining the value of the overall piece we can see the great changes from the dark to the light. When I take this photo of the Mother and Child into Photoshop and change it to gray scale it gives us the best visual of the overall values throughout the artwork. As mentioned above the painting uses a majority of low values in the center of the image, as you can see in the clothing of the mother and especially the child. The higher values are around the outside and in the corners of the painting, with a great amount of high value throughout the bottom of the mother’s dress. We can see the background has a higher value compared to the woman and child as this helps bring the two figures to the foreground of the painting for the viewer. When inspecting the intensity of the color it is all mainly dull except for with in the face of the child and somewhat of the mother where we get more detail. The intensity of the white clothing of the child’s is very bright as well and this helps draw the viewer into the main focus of this precious moment between mother and child.
Lastly I would like to mention the texture that this piece has. With it showing the brush strokes I imagine the texture on this painting is amazingly rough as you can most likely feel each brush stroke the artist did. I feel as though this really adds a ton to the painting because there is the unfinished quality or roughness throughout the piece except for with the mother and child’s face where we get more detail as the artist wanted the main focus.