Dear Mary (hour 10)


“I fail to see what the Moderns are supposed to have discovered about color.”

Mary Cassatt (letter to Berthe Morisot & her daughter Julie Manet, autumn 1879)

I’ve never met a color I didn’t love, but what you? All this bother about discovering color makes me nervous. As if painting was a game of one-upmanship. Who’s got the best/most/clearest/sincerest/most outrageous perception. As if we all see/saw things the same way as each other.


And I can’t help but wonder if there’s anything new to explain about say, shades of blue – that you or Renaissance painters didn’t know? The blues in your “Little Girl in a Blue Armchair” don’t strike me as virginal. Your little girl appears thoroughly modern – slouched, legs akimbo as if bored to death of waiting for something – not a Renaissance Madonna. And that lapdog isn’t some lamb in a creche. Nor does he seem stuffed in the painting to show a patron’s wealth. I suspect he’s the family pet.


Maybe your blues aren’t medieval lapis, but let’s be modern. I’d rather be sprawled in those two peacock/cobalt overstuffed chairs than almost anywhere else.


(response to Mary Cassatt, “Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, 1878)

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