If you missed class, we started by having a practice session for your test, which is scheduled for Friday, September 21st.
We looked at the following piece by Mary Cassatt called The Bath and then discussed the composition, color, balance/harmony, movement and mood established by the piece. Remember that part of your exam on Friday pertains to doing the same evaluation. Make sure you refer to the five images I posted last time. Review and research them in order to make sure that you have a strong understanding of the composition, color, balance/harmony, movement and mood for each. I HAVE INCLUDED A FORMER STUDENT'S RESPONSE BELOW THE IMAGE.
Elisa Wilson Wilson, 1
September 22, 2001
The Bath by Mary Cassatt
The Bath by Mary Cassatt embraces the natural love between a mother and a child. Through the design elements of composition, color, balance, mood and movement one greatly appreciates Cassatt’s intent, and the viewer develops a deeper understanding for Cassatt's depiction of the mother and child.
The composition of The Bath focuses the audience’s attention on the child. The eye is immediately drawn to the child, and then to the mother. This draws attention to the emotion of the moment. Cassatt has also used circles in the piece to indicate unity and peace between the mother and child. One can see the circle in the basin, the shape of the heads, and in the circular form of the pitcher. The background of the painting appears muted or slightly fussy, which helps bring the attention to the mother and child. The overall arrangement of subjects gives the viewer a sense of peace.
The color used indicates a moment of peace. Cassette used white for the little girl to indicate her innocence and naivety. The mother appears in a stripped dress using light green, pink and white. These colors let the audience know that the moment is serene. The red colored carpet, although subtle, lets the audience know that the relationship between the mother and child is genuine.
Cassatt has created a balance in the work, as the mother and child are placed in the middle of the piece. No contention or disharmony exists here. The balance gives the viewer an understanding of harmony and relaxation, as these are the emotions experienced by the two subjects.
The movement of the piece begins first with the child. The audience sees the little girl and then the eye is drawn down toward the basin. The mother washing the child’s foot helps the audience understand the connection between the two of them. In addition, both subjects are looking in the same direction towards the child’s feet as the mother gently cleans them. This positioning helps the audience follow the gaze to the feet of the child.
The audience becomes captured by the peaceful and relaxed mood set by this piece. Cassatt clearly valued relationships, especially those among children and mothers. The mother portrays concern for the child’s well-being by securing the child in her lap with one hand, while the other hand gently caresses the girl’s foot. These actions appear natural, and help the viewer recognize the significane of the relationship.