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Mary Stevenson Cassatt (Impressionism): Art Lesson Plan

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (Impressionism): Art Lesson Plan

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (May 22, 1844 to June 14, 1926, age 82) was an American painter who was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania into an upper-middle-class family but who lived most of her adult life in France where she befriended Edgar Degas. Her parents believed that girls should be educated, so she attended school and traveled to Europe as a child. She visited many museums across Europe as a girl and later as an adult. Early in her career as an artist, she experimented with many styles of painting but eventually settled into painting scenes of modern affluent life in Paris.

The Boating Party by Mary Stevenson Cassatt

Little Girl in Blue Armchair by Mary Stevenson Cassatt

Cassatt captured the attention of fellow painter Degas, whom she admired, with her ability to capture a moment in time. Art by women was often dismissed at the time. She thus accepted an invitation by Degas to show her works with the Impressionists in a series of independent exhibitions in 1874. She frequently painted the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children. Some of her notable works include The Boating Party, Little Girl in Blue Armchair, and Mother and Child. Cassatt was described, along with Marie Bracquemond and Berthe Morisot, by French journalist and art critic Gustave Geffroy in 1894 as one of “les trois grandes dames” (the three great ladies) of Impressionisn. She is also considered the only American Impressionist.

Mother and Child by Mary Stevenson Cassatt

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The Child's Bath by Mary Stevenson Cassatt

Activity

Look at the painting Little Girl in Blue Armchair. What does the painting portray? Describe how the little girl might feel and what she might be thinking. What do you think she did before sitting down in the chair? What do you think she might do after the moment captured in the painting? Use art materials of your choosing (colored pencils, crayons, markers, oil pastels, watercolors, etc.) to create a series of drawings or paintings that tell a story about the girl and the dog.

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Child in Chair by Toddler

Child in Chair by Preschooler

Child in Chair by Preschooler

Child in Chair by Third Grader

Child in Chair by Third Grader

Child in Chair by Adult

Recommended Books

Mary Cassatt (Revised Edition) (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists) (9780531212929)
Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter (9781627790161)
Mary Cassatt: Famous Female Impressionist (Eye on Art) (9781534566095)
Suzette and the Puppy: A Story About Mary Cassatt (Young Readers) (9780764152948)
Mary Cassatt: Family Pictures (Smart About Art) (9780448431529)
Quiet Time with Cassatt (Mini Masters) (9780811855044)

Additional Resources

Mary Cassatt at The Art Story

Image Credits

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (Impressionism): Art Lesson Plan © 2019 Heather Johnson
The Boating Party by Mary Stevenson Cassatt
Little Girl in Blue Armchair by Mary Stevenson Cassatt
Mother and Child by Mary Stevenson Cassatt
The Child’s Bath by Mary Stevenson Cassatt
Child in Chair by Toddler © 2019 Heather Johnson
Child in Chair by Preschooler © 2019 Heather Johnson
Child in Chair by Preschooler © 2019 Heather Johnson
Child in Chair by Third Grader © 2019 Heather Johnson
Child in Chair by Third Grader © 2019 Heather Johnson
Child in Chair by Adult © 2019 Heather Johnson

Written by Heather Johnson

Heather is a writer, librarian, linguist, wife, and mother who loves her husband, children, dogs, and cats. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in creative writing and master's degrees in library and information science and English studies with a concentration in linguistics.

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