Girl Arranging her Hair, 1886
Impressionists, there was a brief fad of painting women combing their
two girls, are both braiding their long hair and both have a dreamlike
gaze facing away from the viewer. In Girl Arranging her Hair, by
Cassatt, the painter chose to emulate Degas and depicted a maid at
her toilette. In fact, it was this painting that was found in Degas'
studio, and thought to be his--but was later identified as Cassatt's.
The composition is rigorous, with the movement of one arm echoed by
the other. Although the pose of the girl is casual the arrangement
in the background--the chair, the sink, and the mirror frame step
up in unison to the movement of the girls' arms.
Girl with Red Hair 1893
Girl with Red Hair appears to be getting ready for an outing. The absence of objects in the background
make this picture look flatter and therefore has more of the quality
of a straight portrait than Cassatt's.
Salon artists would have deemed a girl combing her hair as a serious
theme for a painting, unless she was a goddess or a nymph. These paintings are instances of these
girls' daily life, rather than a symbol or allegory of women.
The Boating Party 1893-4
two pictures show similar themes covered by Cassatt and Morisot: an
outing on a lake.
show women with their children, and the two mothers have almost identical
clothing. Neither boating experience is set in
reference to myth, they represent, an instant of reality--an attitude
to painting that the Impressionists valued.
Cassatt and Morisot were acquaintances, they competed in their artwork. Cassatt's picture, The Boating Party,
perhaps influenced by Manet (with its areas of large distinct
painted forms) focuses on compositional structure and a quality of
In a Boat, on the other hand, focuses on the quality of the
transient effects of light dappling on the women and the water.