Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We All Need a Little Inspiration

Title: Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper
Author: Harriet Scott Chessman
Pages: 164
Publisher: A Plume Book
ISBN: 1583222723

I love Susan Vreeland's books about the fictionalization of artists' worlds. I stumbled on this title while browsing for any new work from her and I'm glad I did. It is a quick read, but gives an interesting perspective of Mary Cassatt's work. The Impressionists have been growing on me lately, mostly because of Vreeland's Luncheon of the Boating Party which illustrated the process of Renoir's collecting and posing the various characters in his painting.

In this story, the perspective is Mary Cassatt's older sister Lydia, who for most of her life, has lived in the shadow of her vibrant sister. In addition, Lydia has a chronic disease that confines her to her bed frequently. But, what Lydia doesn't realize that her calm mindfulness and observation of the world inspires Mary's work. Throughout the book, Lydia struggles with her perception of herself and the splintering of her life. The book also has some nice prints of the paintings that Lydia actually modeled for. I would like to re-read this book just to savor it again.

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