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MARY CASSATT: AMERICAN IMPRESSIONIST
SUBJECTS — Visual Arts; World/France; Biography; U.S./1865 - 1913;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Talent; Romantic Relationships;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Responsibility.
Age: 8+; Not rated (but suitable for all ages); Drama; 1999; 56 minutes; Color.
it is the late 1870s and Mary Cassatt, a young woman from the United States, wants to be a great Impressionist painter. She has moved to Paris, France to pursue her art. As the film opens, her preparatinons for an important exhibition are interrupted when her brother and his rambunctious family unexpectedly arrive for a visit. Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist is a fictionalized account of that visit in which, after several false starts, Cassatt establishes a lasting relationship with her nephew and nieces. Mary Cassatt became one of the most important U.S. painters of the late 1800s.
The TeachWithMovies.com Learning Guide to this film helps teachers introduce children to Mary Cassatt, setting out where the historical truth ends and fiction begins, providing background information about Mary Cassatt, and suggesting discussion questions. The Guide also contains reproductions of her work.
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Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist will acquaint children with the Impressionists, Paris in the 19th century, and America's first great female modern painter.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To demonstrate how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to improve lesson plans, we have set out below a paragraph from the Learning Guide to Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist.
Cassatt met Edgar Degas in 1877 and they became lifelong friends. He championed her work and invited her to exhibit with the Impressionists. Cassatt was the only North American artist to be accorded that honor, participating in the years 1879, 1880, 1881, and 1886. When Degas invited her to exhibit with the Impressionists, Cassatt told her biographer that she "accepted with joy" and that finally, at the age of 33, she "began to live." [Mary Cassatt, A Life page 108.] Degas would stop at her studio and look over her shoulder, help her obtain models, and make suggestions about how to handle background. (The scene in the film in which Degas took a brush and reworked the background on one of Cassatt's paintings, recalls an actual incident in which he did just that. [Ibid. at 125 & 126] One of the paintings that he worked on was Little Girl in a Blue Armchair shown below.) Degas once teased Cassatt with the remark, "What do women know about style?" Girl Arranging Her Hair, a skilled study in line and composition, was her response to this challenge.
The Learning Guide to the film Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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