Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dog Days of Summer - Mary Cassatt 1844-1926

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) Sara in a Large Flowered Hat Looking Right Holding Her Dog 1901

Mary Cassatt (American artist, 1844-1926) Lydia Seated in the Garden with a Dog in her Lap

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926). Visitor in Hat and Coat Holding a Maltese Dog, ca. 1879

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) The Girl Holding the Dog

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) Woman By A Window Feeding Her Dog 1880

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) Simone In A Large Plumed Hat Seated Holding A Griffon Dog

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) Woman In Raspberry Costume Holding a Dog 1900

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) Woman On A Striped With A Dog or Young Woman On A Striped Sofa With Her Dog

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) A Girl Holding the Dog

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) Elsie Cassatt Holding a Big Dog 1880

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) Marie Louise Durand Ruel 1911

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) Sara With Her Dog in an Armchir Wearing a Bonnet with a Plum Ornament 1901

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) Young Girl at a Window 1883

Mary Cassatt (American artist, 1844-1926) Little Girl in a Blue Armchair 1878

Mary Cassatt (American artist, 1844-1926) Sara with her Dog

Mary Cassatt (American artist, 1844-1926) Francoise with a little, black dog

Dog Days of Summer is the name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was determined to extend from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) & the sun.  The Greek poets Hesiod (ca. 750-650 BCE) & Aratus (ca. 310–240 BCE) refer, in their writings, to "the heat of late summer that the Greeks believed was actually brought on by the appearance of Sirius," a star in the constellation, that the later Romans, & we today refer to as Canis Major, literally the "greater dog" constellation. Homer, in the Iliad, references the association of "Orion's dog" (Sirius) with oncoming heat, fevers, & evil, in describing the approach of Achilles toward Troy:
Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky
On summer nights, star of stars,
Orion's Dog they call it, brightest
Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat
And fevers to suffering humanity.

The term "dog days" was used by the Greeks in Aristotle's Physics.  Astronomer Geminus, around 70 B.C., wrote: "It is generally believed that Sirius produces the heat of the 'dog days,' but this is an error, for the star merely marks a season of the year when the sun"s heat is the greatest." The lectionary of 1559 edition of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer indicates: "Naonae. Dog days begin" with the readings for July 7 & end August 18. But the readings for September 5 indicate: "Naonae. Dog days end."  This corresponds very closely to the lectionary of the 1611 edition of the King James Bible which indicates the Dog Days beginning on July 6 & ending on September 5.

Smitten Édouard Manet 1832–1883 paints Berthe Morisot 1841-1895 with fans

French artist Édouard Manet (1832–1883) first painted young Berthe Morisot holding a fan in the late 1860s.

1868 Édouard Manet (French artist, 1832–1883) The Balcony. Here Berthe Morisot is seated holding a fan. Standing is violinist Fanny Claus, with painter Antonin Guillemet.

1870 Édouard Manet (French artist, 1832–1883) Le Repose Portrait of Berthe Morisot with a fan.

In 1872, Édouard Manet (French artist, 1832–1883) gave Berthe Morisot this intensely romantic painting called The Bunch of Violets. It contains a letter, the fan she held in his by then famous painting, “The Balcony,” and a bunch of violets.

1874 Édouard Manet (French artist, 1832–1883) Portrait of Berthe Morisot 

In 1874, Berthe Morisot married Edouard's brother Eugene Manet. 

When Edouard Manet died in 1883, Berthe wrote this to her sister, “These last days were very painful; poor Edouard suffered atro­ciously. His agony was horrible…If you add to these almost physical emotions my old bonds of friendship with Edouard, an entire past of youth and work suddenly ending, you will under­stand that I am crushed…I shall never forget the days of my friendship and intimacy with him, when I sat for him and when the charm of his mind kept me alert during those long hours.” 

Morning Madonna

Workshop of Gerard David (Netherlandish, ca. 1460–1523), Adoration of the Magi, ca. 1514.

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.