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D.C.'s National Gallery to open 'Degas/Cassatt' exhibit with new info about them

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Washington's National Gallery of Art will mount a 2014 exhibition "Degas/Cassatt" that will "reveal new information about the relationship of the two renowned Impressionists," the museum announced Dec. 16.

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Edgar Degas' (1834–1917) influence on fellow Impressionist, American Mary Cassatt (1844–1926), is widely known -- "but her role in shaping his work and introducing him to American audiences is fully examined for the first time in 'Degas/Cassatt'," the National Gallery (NGA) said in a statement.

The NGA will be the only venue for the unique exhibition of some 70 artworks -- oil paintings, pastels, etchings, drawings, and other media -- from May 11 through Oct. 5, 2014, the museum announced.

"Groundbreaking technical analysis" will be presented by conservators and scientists who examined key works by both artists, the NGA added.

Pittsburgh-born Cassatt had a painting accepted in the Paris Salon of 1872, a rare achievement for an American of either gender. "Two Women Throwing Flowers During Carnival" was well received in the 1872 Salon, and she had work accepted in each subsequent Salon until 1877, when both of her submissions were rejected.

At this nadir of her career, she met Degas, whose pastels "changed my life" when she saw them in a Parisian art dealer's window.

"I used to go and flatten my nose against that window and absorb all I could of his art," Cassatt wrote. "It changed my life. I saw art then as I wanted to see it."

Degas, upon seeing Cassatt's art for the first time, is said to have remarked, "there is someone who feels as I do."

When they met in 1877, he told her, "Most women paint as though they are trimming hats...Not you." They began a 40-year friendship that lasted until his death, according to "The 100 Most Influential Women" by Deborah G. Felder.

Degas invited Cassatt, who lived in Paris, to show her works with the Impressionists. He owned some 100 works by Cassatt—more than any other contemporary artist of his generation, the NGA noted.

The National Gallery has one of the world's finest collections of works by Cassatt, totaling 119, and the world's third largest collection of works by Degas, totaling 158.

For more info: "Degas/Cassatt", National Gallery of Art, www.nga.gov, on the National Mall, Constitution Avenue between 7th and 4th Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C. Free. On view May 11 through Oct. 5, 2014.

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