Archive for France

France: Paris: A Walking Travel Tour



From YouTube

Paris, being my favorite city, was deserving of a longer film. I hope that this longer, yet 'small scratch of the surface' film of this magnificent city shall convince you to visit for yourselves and experience all that Paris has to offer first hand. Bon Voyage!

I definitely recommend taking a tour with 'Sight Seekers Delight' in Paris. Their various walking tours show you the best of Paris. The URL for their website is on the YouTube site.


France From Above HD - High Definition Views of the Chateaux de la Loire



From YouTube

Get ready for some stunning flyover views along the Loire River in France. Some of the finest castles and palaces in the country. Unmissable European architectural masterpieces.

Be sure to subscribe to the World from Above' YT Channel here.


Mary Cassatt's Incredible Legacy in the Art World - Conclusion



Much had happened during the years Cassatt had absented herself from France. The Impressionistes were emerging as a tour de force, indeed, they had established their own exhibitions in blatant challenge to the Salon.

For that reason they were initially known as the Independentes, then the peculiar effect of the soft-focussed, somewhat imprecise style of brushwork brought them to the lasting term of Impressionism. Claude Monet exhibited his landscape Impression: Sunrise in the 1872 Paris Salon, which provoked the art critic Louis Leroy to coin the term "Impressionism" in a satiric review published in Le Charivari.



Cassatt was delighted to find that one woman preceded her in the beginnings of this new and exciting movement, in the talented form of Berthe Morisot. Morisot, who exhibited the grand sum of nine works in the first Impressioniste show, did turn out to be conventional in one regard, marriage. She spent part of each year with the Manet family at Fécamp, and soon declared her intent to marry Eugène, Edouard Manet’s brother.


Paris in the late 1870's was having a renaissance of it's own, Napoleon III had ordered much reconstruction and the famed Grands Boulevards were introduced. The cultured now paraded ostentatiously along Haussmann, Le Champs, and attended the new Opéra Garnier. Commerce had room to soar, tourists flocked, artists prospered. The Belle Époque had begun, and cultural modernity arrived to move it swiftly forward.


Cassatt had been doing portraits for some time, she was much sought after by Americans traveling abroad in the years following the Civil War. These bought baguettes and paid the rent, but did not satisfy other, deeper needs. In 1877, an admired acquaintance and fellow painter, Edgar Degas, invited her to join the growing ranks and exhibitions of the Impressionistes.

Cassatt wrote, "I accepted with joy. Now I could work with absolute independence without considering the opinion of a jury. I had already recognized who were my true masters. I admired Manet, Courbet, and Degas.

"I took leave of conventional art. I began to live.” A burgeoning and close friendship with Degas began, which lasted right up until Degas’ death in 1917. Both Degas and their outrageous peer Auguste Renoir greatly influenced her style of painting, and encouraged her to a more free and liberated manner and use of color.


Mary Cassatt, Girl Arranging Hair


That signature 'unfocussed' perspective suited her themes, which often included children, pets and gardens. Degas would later say that for him, the influence was mutual. Once, on seeing some of Mary’s work, Degas quietly admitted that he would not have believed en principe that a woman could draw so well.

While a tremendously social creature, Cassatt did not openly pursue relationships with men. It has been proposed that she and Edgar Degas entertained more than a close friendship. Good for them if they did, but there is seemingly no proof either way, and TMZ was not about to make up our minds for us.

She did have a healthy self respect, which certainly served her well in the patriarchal art world of that era. It was a deliberate choice on her part not to marry, although she encouraged her nieces and nephews to visit, and to model. She adored children, as is unmistakably clear in her prolific portrayal of them.

Mary Cassatt-Young Woman Reading

Mary Cassatt-Young Woman Reading

Mary Cassatt, The Mandolin Player, 1868.

Mary Cassatt, The Mandolin Player, 1868.

Cassatt would later say that there was "no teaching" at the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts. She was tremendously impatient with the snail's pace of the instructors, and understandably put out that women were not afforded the same creative opportunities as their male counterparts.

Her parents were distinctly unenthused about her concentration on art as it was, and patently hoped it was all a flight of fancy. They hoped in vain. Those years had not been easy for anyone, the Civil War raged on and Pennsylvania was right in the thick of things. Fed up with what she saw as the arrogant patronization of both teachers and fellow students, Cassatt left the Academy to pursue her own course of study, one which she structured around the Old Masters.

By 1866 Cassatt was ready for more challenging pursuits, and had badgered her father into agreeing that she might undertake study in Paris ~ with the mandatory accompaniment of her mother and family friends to provide the obligatory chaperonage. Off they sailed, leaving behind the ravages and aftermath of the violent North South conflict. Cassatt was twenty two.



What an art world to be discovered, to be relished, in the Paris of 1866 ... the prospects must have been overwhelmingly exciting for the young American painter. She did not lack confidence, but knew she wanted for the necessary classical skills and techniques that would bring her work to life.

Regarding self-portraits, she made a decidely unusual choice via her 1878 painting Woman in Black at the Opera. It depicts a woman, lately presumed to be the artist herself, seated in an opera box, apparently alone, leaning forward to peer through opera glasses at the other world of the stage. 



It was a bold and revolutionary perspective for a woman artist.




Mary Cassatt: Some Art Serenity and That Inner Discovery of Beauty


Mary Cassatt, Children in a Garden

Fine art is one of the subjects I most love to scribble about. All politics all the time add up to more monster stressors and good ole' anxiety has more room to wiggle into our over-loaded inner lives.

Mary Cassatt knew the way.

Mary Cassatt, In the Box, 1879.

Mary Cassatt, In the Box, 1879.

  Part One

Breaking news is always the front-runner, but we hope some But the weekly opportunity to do an art post  is a strong contender. Today, I found several museum review tie-ins that did little to pique my interest, so thought to just choose an artiste. I will likely have to do this in parts, as the story is fascinating and the art delightfully plentiful.

Mary Cassatt was quite the anomaly for her day. American, classically trained yet not given to painting so, and female ... not the CV of a successful or well-regarded painter at that time. She had talent and passion, however, which still meant something then.

Much has been said and written about this dynamic nineteenth century artist, both while she grew into the personae of someone truly larger than life, and certainly as history has judged her since.

Reading Le Figuro, Mary Cassett

Reading Le Figuro, Mary Cassett

It was no mean feat for a young woman to leave the United States to brave the French art world, yet she triumphed, and not just once. She brilliantly painted mothers and children, yet fiercely independent, never chose to marry or to procreate. She was, in turn, devastatingly outspoken, no shy or retiring flower ... but I digress, and get ahead of the story.

A small town Pennsylvania girl, Cassatt had a privileged albeit conservative upbringing. Her father had created a wealthy niche for himself in stocks and land speculation, and her mother had been born into a prominent American banking family.

She traveled extensively with her parents for five of her early years, during the late 1840's and early 1850's, and was exposed to the European capitals and their cultural riches. By the time she attended the renowned Paris World's Fair in 1855, she knew in her soul that her life would be dedicated to art. She was all of eleven.

Summertime, by Cassatt

Summertime, by Cassatt

The exhibitors featured at the 1855 Fair reads like a Brittanica entry of prominent and upcoming French art royalty. Courbet, Corot, Ingres, Degas, Pissarro and Delacroix all contributed to that legendary event.

Cassatt was then just beginning to study drawing and music, as all well-heeled young ladies of that era did. Yet for her, the former would evolve into a passion rather than a de rigeur social accomplishment. When the Cassatts moved back to Philadelphia in 1859,  she began studies at the acclaimed Academy of the Fine Arts.

At age fifteen she was already focusing on painting as a discipline. And I do mean discipline, in every practical sense of the word.  Although one in five of the Academy's students was female, the majority were hobbyists, having a bit of creative, elite fun in the ramp up to socially prominent marriages. Perhaps not as much fun as they would have liked, as women students were not permitted to avail themselves of live models. [Gaah!]

It would allow her to grow and develop her natural talent, and nurture her passion.


Exceptional teachers were thick on the terre, and she was accepted to study with three of the best:  Jean-Léon Gérôme, Charles Chaplin and the eccentric Thomas Couture. His Romantic Movement style was all the rage, particularly when applied to the historical context he chose to paint primarily within.

It only took two years for one of Cassatt's works to be chosen for the iconic Paris Salon. The Mandolin Player was a decidedly conservative painting, very much in the style of the Romantic Barbizon school and of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, it's prominent yet aging leader.



At that time, women students were not welcome to stroll through the imposing portals of the École des Beaux Arts. Hence the private studies Cassatt had diligently arranged.

Arguably that particular sexist bit of nineteenth century discrimination served her career well, not only did she learn from true masters and innovators, she made connections and friendships that would keep her in good stead en France for the rest of her long life.

To Be Continued ...




The Book Booth: Bastille Day Edition


Bastille Day


The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

Monday marks the 225th anniversary of Bastille Day in France, so if you happen to be there, join in the fun. It is also Woody Guthrie's 102nd and the lovely SeattleTammy celebrates her birthday, too, though she is not nearly that old. Happy Birthday, my dear lovely bride! In any event, before we go off storming the barricades, here's some items from the world of books to check out.

In the Department of Irony we find that Karl Marx still has readers. Even as the stock market soars. ABE Books recently sold a first edition of Das Kapital for some big bucks.

The Millions recently had a handy guide to books coming out later this year and early next year. There as some interesting titles by authors including E.L. Doctorow, Haruki Murakami, Lorrie Moore as well as some reprinrts, including Augustus by John Williams, who wrote the wonderful Stoner.  Millions Handy Guide to Books

It wasn't so long ago that the anticipation of a new book in the Harry Potter series was palatable. Believe me. Well, it turns out that J.K. Rowling has written a new story about Harry as an adult and it available online. HT to our friend, Lucian!  What's Harry Doing These Days?

Literature is full of rogues and femme fatales. You know. The kind of people are parents warned us against, but to whom we may have given into temptation. HuffPo has its list of literature's most dangerous love scoundrels here. Scoundrels

Then there are books devoted to the scandalous. Flavorwire has recommended ten of these, including the infamous Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger, which, if not accurate at all times, is fun to read.  Scandals

In life there are dilemmas. If you love to read, there are even more complications. Buzzfeed explains what they are and offers no solutions. We have to live with these unanswerable questions.  Dilemmas

As many of you are aware, there has been an on-going dispute between and the Hachette Publishing Group which owns Little Brown, and other companies. Amazon has delayed the shipment of many Hachette writers, including James Patterson and J.K. Rowling. And Malcolm Gladwell.  Goliath Battles the Underdogs. It seems Gladwell wanted to get to the bottom of the whole controversy. After all, it is taking one to three weeks for customers to get Malcolm' latest book. Who better than Dick Cavett to set up a meeting between Gladwell and the new VP of Amazon fulfillment Goliath Meets with the Underdogs

Our current reading includes, for me, The Mayor of McDougal Street, the fascinating memoir by the late Dave Van Ronk about the early days of the Greenwich Village folk scene. SeattleTammy is tackling Pulitzer Prize winner Wallace Stegner's long and absorbing Angle of Repose. So tell us what books you got going. We'd like to know. Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Bastille Day!


Monday Links


Images from the conflict in Donetsk, Ukraine (from le monde)

Fahrenheit 1989: China Erases Memories of Tiananmen

'We'll Get You': An Albanian Boy's Life Ruined by Blood Feuds

Nucla becomes Colorado's first and only town mandating gun ownership

Syria Chemical Weapons on the Road to Destruction

Israel Plans More Settlement Units in the West Bank

Gunmen kill 11 at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport

Several Thousand in Paris March in Memory of Anti-Fascist Hero Clement Meric


Sunday Links


links Grapes

French anti-GM protestors walk free after destroying vineyard

In Case You Missed It: The President and Vice President Stop By a Shake Shack

Hilariously awful NRA show lists Hemingway – who shot himself – as hero gun owner

Legal Pot in the US Is Crippling Mexican Cartels

Peru: Community Resisting Mining Project In Yanacocha Facing State Repression, Mass Arrests

Teacher Email To Legislators Draws Harsh Reply

Senate confirms first Native woman federal judge