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Little girl in a blue armchair

Painting, 1878, 89.5×129.8 cm

Description of the artwork «Little girl in a blue armchair»

One of the first and the best children's portraits Cassatt, which, moreover, recorded the artist's transition from realistic painting to impressionism. This painting, together with ten other works by Cassatt, introduced at the fourth, her debut exhibition of the Impressionists in April, 1879.

In creating "Little girl in a blue armchair" directly participated Edgar Degas. The artists met in 1877. Degas not only offered his American counterpart to exhibit with the Impressionists but became her friend and mentor. For a picture posed for the daughter of friends of Degas. The Brussels Griffon is depicted in one of the chairs as a gift to the artist, which was presented again Degas. Decorative dog breed loved by Cassatt during a trip to Antwerp in 1873. Pick up the first puppy, she never parted with this breed until the end of life. Later Cassatt repeatedly painted portraits of women and children, holding in her hand the griffons (1, 2, 3) .

In a letter to the famous Parisian art dealer To The Ambroise VollardCassatt admitted that Degas helped her to work on the background of "Little girl in blue armchair". Long-term studies conducted at the National gallery of art (Washington), where the painting, confirmed that traces of Degas.

Cassatt wanted to present the picture in the American pavilion of the world exhibition in Paris (1878), which became a landmark event of that time. For example, the compatriot of the artist, Thomas Edison presented there his new invention — a megaphone and phonograph. The artist sent the jury of the "Little girl in a blue armchair" and another work, whose title is still unknown. "Unidentified", the painting was included in the exhibition, but the children's portrait in an impressionistic style was rejected. On hearing this, Cassatt was furious.

Painting has long been in private hands until 1983, the then owners, the couple Melgunov, not gave it to the Washington Museum.

What did the jury of the American pavilion, but delighted spectators of the exhibition of the Impressionists and still captivate lovers of painting?The plot is extremely simple. The little girl that, apparently, was running around the room, located in a bright blue chair. Look at the child slightly dissatisfied. The girl is bored, she stretched out her legs to the side, almost slipping from the chair, how often do restless children. Skirt up, bare knees, the adherents of academic painting, most likely, was confused by the "physicality" of the picture.

In the second half of the nineteenth century children were still portrayed as angels in sedate poses, ruches and with a calm clear view. Impressionism, which declared "sincerity in art", rejected this approach. Cassatt was one of those who began to portray children a fundamentally new way in their "natural environment".

Using a limited palette of colors, broad strokes and asymmetrical composition Cassatt gave the painting the internal dynamics. The light entering the room through the rear door adds texture and pattern to inanimate objects. This visual effect is increased by the vigorous strokes with which made haphazardly arranged blue chairs and brownish-gray floor. In contrast, the furniture girl and dog depicted in the rest. It is clear to the audience that the artist "drew" the time between games.

Inclined plane of the image and the trim of the seats to give the picture the influence of Degas and Japanese graphics.

Theorists of art called "Little girl in a blue armchair" one of the most daring for its time, illustrations of childhood. Painting Cassatt conveys the sense of injustice and helplessness felt by a lively child, bound by the social restrictions of the adult world.

Author: Larissa Kuzara
I like39 To the selection33
About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait, Genre scene

Style of art: Impressionism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1878

Size: 89.5×129.8 cm

Artwork in selections: 33 selections