My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Aspiring American artist Mary Cassatt is living in France in the 1870s trying to make a name for herself as an artist. After some initial success she finds her latest work rejected from the all-powerful Salon, which controls which art is considered good and worthy and which is not. Fortunately for her, Mlle. Cassatt’s work has been noticed by other painters who want to reject the stranglehold of the Salon and paint in a new style. She is invited to exhibit with them next year by their mercurial member, Edgar Degas.
Mary Cassatt aspired to be a traditional painter in the style admired at the time. She had been admitted to the Salon previously but as her style began to change she was rejected.
An example of her early work:
One of her first Impressionist paintings.
By the mid 1870s she was the only American and one of 3 women who was exhibiting with the Impressionists. Her specialty became painting women and children.
Her parents and chronically ill sister Lydia lived with her in Paris and their care took a lot of her time. She had an on-again/off-again relationship with Edgar Degas but never married. He painted this portrait of her.
I like historical fiction that looks at the stories behind works of art. This book is ultimately frustrating because it is a real story and doesn’t follow a fictional, happy ever after plot line.