Women With A Pearl Necklace In A Loge

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Cassatt, Women with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge, 1879

One of Cassatt's most noted works, Women With a Pearl Necklace in a Loge depicts what is said to be her sister, Lidia, at the Paris opera house in a private box. The style of this piece is normal of Cassatt's impressionist side with the light brush strokes and casual lines that make the piece laid back and less formal of a piece for the quite formal occasion. Her high class is obvious and demonstrated by her seat at the opera and her clothes with her playful fan, dress, and flowers.

Formal scenes and domestic images were mostly Cassatt's subjects because she was a woman artist. Although she came from wealth, her father refused to support her artistic career and would only pay for her living expenses and not her art supplies or classes, which after the Pennsylvania School of Fine Arts her classes became sparse when she moved to Paris because women couldn't participate in the academies. Because of this, Cassatt found herself working in private studios with some of the greatest talent. She favored, of course, Degas' private studio time (though nothing romantic, with Degas' purely visual sexual behavior). After training with some of the Impressionist masters, she began working in these domestic scenes, or outings in which women could attend, such as this painting.  

Cassatt paints her at intermission and looking at her from her box seat, the viewer sees the rest the audience in the background, making this piece essentially addressing the audience as the performers. The show itself is at a pause and Cassatt takes a moment to capture the audience in action from the perspective of standing on the stage, looking up at her sister and the mirror image of the entire crowd. The reflection is done pretty well I'd say. Cassatt removes herself from the reflection, even though she would be seeing herself in the mirror as well from this view. She does this to further illuminate the audience as the performers and call attention to their act while they gather to watch the ballet. The viewers of a certain class int eh box seats must come to the ballet with a casual and elegant attitude, like Lidia displays, and be with friends and only concerned with themselves as Cassatt shows in the other boxes and by removing herself.    

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