• Pragerisms

    For a more comprehensive list of Pragerisms visit
    Dennis Prager Wisdom.

    • "The left is far more interested in gaining power than in creating wealth."
    • "Without wisdom, goodness is worthless."
    • "I prefer clarity to agreement."
    • "First tell the truth, then state your opinion."
    • "Being on the Left means never having to say you're sorry."
    • "If you don't fight evil, you fight gobal warming."
    • "There are things that are so dumb, you have to learn them."
  • Liberalism’s Seven Deadly Sins

    • Sexism
    • Intolerance
    • Xenophobia
    • Racism
    • Islamophobia
    • Bigotry
    • Homophobia

    A liberal need only accuse you of one of the above in order to end all discussion and excuse himself from further elucidation of his position.

  • Glenn’s Reading List for Die-Hard Pragerites

    • Bolton, John - Surrender is not an Option
    • Bruce, Tammy - The Thought Police; The New American Revolution; The Death of Right and Wrong
    • Charen, Mona - DoGooders:How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help
    • Coulter, Ann - If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans; Slander
    • Dalrymple, Theodore - In Praise of Prejudice; Our Culture, What's Left of It
    • Doyle, William - Inside the Oval Office
    • Elder, Larry - Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card--and Lose
    • Frankl, Victor - Man's Search for Meaning
    • Flynn, Daniel - Intellectual Morons
    • Fund, John - Stealing Elections
    • Friedman, George - America's Secret War
    • Goldberg, Bernard - Bias; Arrogance
    • Goldberg, Jonah - Liberal Fascism
    • Herson, James - Tales from the Left Coast
    • Horowitz, David - Left Illusions; The Professors
    • Klein, Edward - The Truth about Hillary
    • Mnookin, Seth - Hard News: Twenty-one Brutal Months at The New York Times and How They Changed the American Media
    • Morris, Dick - Because He Could; Rewriting History
    • O'Beirne, Kate - Women Who Make the World Worse
    • Olson, Barbara - The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House
    • O'Neill, John - Unfit For Command
    • Piereson, James - Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism
    • Prager, Dennis - Think A Second Time
    • Sharansky, Natan - The Case for Democracy
    • Stein, Ben - Can America Survive? The Rage of the Left, the Truth, and What to Do About It
    • Steyn, Mark - America Alone
    • Stephanopolous, George - All Too Human
    • Thomas, Clarence - My Grandfather's Son
    • Timmerman, Kenneth - Shadow Warriors
    • Williams, Juan - Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It
    • Wright, Lawrence - The Looming Tower

Will Russia Ever Learn Civility?

Ukraine President Zelensky Sets His Terms to End Russia’s Aggression in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin Isn’t Laughing

By streiff | May 07, 2022

Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke at an event hosted by the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House. The main subject was Putin’s War, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine should be called, but the most significant part was in the forum where President Zelensky defined the terms for ending the war.

When Russian troops crossed the border with Ukraine on February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin set out his goals for his cakewalk to Kiev as 1) removal of the “nazis” and “drug addicts” ruling Ukraine, 2) disbanding the Ukrainian armed forces, 3) banning membership in NATO and requiring permanent “neutrality,” 4) banning “nazi” influences in Ukrainian politics, 5) recognizing the annexation of Crimea as legal, and 6) recognizing the independence of the fake republics created by Putin in 2014. In addition to those demands, Putin demanded that Russian be made an official “second” language of Ukraine because the number of Russian speakers in Ukraine has dropped about ten percentage points since Ukrainian independence, and it is difficult to meddle and create divisions unless you have a pressure point like language.

If you want to look for a model for these demands, you should look at the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s ultimatum to Serbia in July 1914. Just like Austro-Hungary demands required Serbia to give Vienna control of Serbia’s foreign and domestic policy,  Putin’s terms for ending the war were nothing less than making Ukraine a province of Russia. These wildly inappropriate demands were met with the scorn they so richly deserved. It was not a serious proposal once Ukraine decided to resist.

Since the invasion, there have been a few meetings of Ukrainian and Orc; sorry, I mean Russian representatives but very little movement. Ukraine’s position has remained that any cease-fire must be accompanied by Russian forces withdrawing to their positions as of February 23. Any discussions on the status of Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk must take place after a cessation of hostilities and Russian withdrawal, and the results of those discussions will be decided by a national referendum, including the votes of Ukrainians who are refugees. The status of the Russian language will be determined by a referendum amending the constitution. Nothing has been offered by Ukraine that would give Putin even a fig leaf of victory. READ Proposed ‘Fifteen Point Peace Plan’ in Russia-Ukraine War Is a Total Defeat for Putin, but Zelensky Is Biding His Time, and Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Reaches Its Culmination Point and Zelensky Plays Hardball in the Peace Negotiations.

Despite what Putin’s fellatistos say, 1) Ukraine, not NATO or the EU, makes the decision on when to negotiate and what terms are acceptable, 2) Russia has made no effort to end the war short of demanding unconditional surrender by Ukraine, and 3) no one in the West is forcing Ukraine to fight, that was a decision made by President Zelensky on February 24 (“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride”) and has been ratified thousands of times each day since as Ukrainian soldiers fight for their country’s independence.

In yesterday’s forum, President Zelensky upped the ante.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky outlined his conditions Friday for entering peace talks with Russia, demanding a restoration of preinvasion borders, the return of more than 5 million refugees, membership in the European Union and accountability from Russian military leaders before Kyiv would consider laying down its arms.

Zelensky’s slate of requirements, which he listed during an online forum organized by Chatham House, are in direct conflict with the military objectives Russian leaders have articulated as they bear down on the Donbas region and southern Ukraine — inflicting additional casualties Friday in apparent violation of a cease-fire.

Zelensky addressed a virtual meeting of the British Chatham House think tank on Friday, telling attendees that Ukraine wants to “regain our territories” and that his country has “a bright future,” despite “the cruelty of the Russian forces.”

The president said his priority is the “integrity of our borders” and the ability of all displaced people to return to their homes.

“I was elected by the people of Ukraine as president of Ukraine, not as president of a mini-Ukraine of some kind,” Zelensky said to a question about Kyiv’s conditions for a peace deal with Russia.

“This is a very important point, and I would like us to realize we need some arrangements in terms of talks to stop the killing.”

“We can use diplomatic channels to regain our territories,” the president said. The minimum Zelensky’s government expects, he said, is to return to “the security of the situation as of the 23rd of February,” one day before Russia’s latest invasion.

“They have to fall back and go beyond the contact lines, and they should withdraw the troops,” Zelensky said. “In that situation, we’ll be able to start discussing things normally. But for them to withdraw, they have to say something and we have to start talking.

The most important takeaway from this is that President Zelensky feels that he will prevail. While Russia has backed off the demands for disbanding the Ukrainian armed forces and changing the regime in Kiev in favor of a land grab along the Black Sea, Zelensky’s terms have hardened.

For the war to end, Russia must withdraw. The one thing Zelensky has been consistent about demanding is that any cease-fire must be accompanied by a total withdrawal of all Russian forces from Ukraine.

Ukraine will not let any of the Russian-created Bantustans for Russian speakers to survive. The fake republics in Donetsk and Luhansk will be returned to governance from Kiev instead of Moscow. This will be a bitter pill for Putin to swallow, but it is getting safer to say that he no longer has the initiative in the war he started, and he doesn’t have the power to impose his will. Western aid, military and economic, will keep Ukraine in the fight longer than Russia can sustain its “special military operation.”

Crimea’s future as Russian territory is less than certain. The best that Russia can hope for out of this is to continue what Kiev views as an illegal occupation and create casus belli for a new war somewhere in the future, a war that Russia will not like.

Ukraine will exit this war as a virtual member of NATO and the EU. Its weaponry, equipment, and training will be standardized with NATO. Its commercial contacts will all be focused on Western Europe, not Russia.

Ukraine will not let the war crimes committed with the knowledge and acquiescence of Putin’s general pass. There will be indictments, and I predict that Russians who participated in these crimes, either directly or under the Yamashita Rule, will be brought to justice in Kiev, not The Hague.

No one knows how this war turns out, but a couple of things are very obvious. Right now, neither side is in the mood to talk about a cease-fire; the only people calling for a ceasefire are the Putin-bots watching the Russians get their clock cleaned and trying to preserve their man-god’s aura of invincibility. The second thing is that Putin’s splendid little adventure in Ukraine will prove a costly miscalculation. Russia’s prestige is taking a pounding; its role as self-appointed protector of Russians abroad is a joke punchline, it will be a generation before its economy or armed forces return to the status quo ante of February 24, and absolutely no one, anywhere, is any longer afraid of the Russian armed forces.

Transcript as provided by the Office of the President.

Today was a busy day, which began and ended with awarding our heroes, our defenders.

On the occasion of Infantry Day – a professional holiday of Ukrainian warriors who are the foundation of the army, I met with our servicemen in the morning. Thanked them for their service. Presented awards. Including our new – combat – award.

You know that since independence there have been no combat awards in our country. And today I had the honor to finally present such an award. The Cross of Military Merit. And the first person to whom I decided to present this Cross was General Valerii Zaluzhny, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. For courage, for wisdom, for organizing an effective rebuff to the Russian invasion. I am sure the Russian army will remember such a rebuff for a long time.

Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant General Yevhen Moysiuk, combat medic of the 72nd separate mechanized brigade, Sergeant Dariya Mazurenko, Commander of the 14th separate mechanized brigade, Colonel Oleksandr Okhrimenko, Deputy Commander of the mechanized battalion of the 72nd separate mechanized brigade, Captain Vladyslav Kaliyevsky received the same award.

Combat awards are a fair new tradition for the state, which defends its independence on the battlefield.

A special award “For Courage and Bravery” was also established for combat units that showed extraordinary courage and effectiveness in the battles for Ukraine. It was received by 7 brigades.

I also presented the Orders of the Golden Star to our defenders who were awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine. And also to the relatives of those of our heroes who were posthumously awarded this title.

We continue the evacuation mission from Mariupol, from Azovstal, with the mediation of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. During the day, our team organized rescue for more than 40 civilians – women and children. We hope that soon they will be able to arrive in a safe area after two months of shelling, just underground – in shelters.

We are also working on diplomatic options to save our military who still remain at Azovstal. Influential mediators are involved. Influential states.

Russian troops continued the shelling of our territory, including missile and air strikes. I ask all our citizens – especially these days – not to ignore the air raid sirens. Please, this is your life, the life of your children. Also, strictly follow the public order and curfew regulations in cities and communities.

Be sure to comply with the ban on visiting forests in the territories that were occupied. A great threat of mines and tripwire mines left after the Russian military remains there.

I met in Kyiv with the foreign ministers of the three Baltic states. They consistently support our struggle against the Russian invasion. Support from the first day. I am very grateful. And today, as always, we talked thoroughly and for the benefit of Ukraine. We are coordinating our steps to increase pressure on Russia.

And this is especially important now – when the European Union is preparing a new, already sixth, sanctions package on Russia.

I also took part in a discussion at the very influential British expert platform Chatham House. It is one of the most important international platforms for political work and lobbying – in the good sense of the word – useful government decisions. I have outlined our initiative to update the global security architecture. So that the tools for a really quick reaction to any external aggression finally appear in the world.

Addressed the Parliament of Iceland. Thanked the Government and the people of Iceland for supporting the sanctions that are needed to deter Russia. I also called on Icelandic politicians, diplomats and ordinary citizens to help defend our freedom. Urged them to be advocates of freedom. Advocates of Ukraine. Because we have a common freedom with them. Just as with all other nations of the free world.

This is the extraordinary strength of the Ukrainian position. We defend ourselves against the onslaught of tyranny craving to destroy everything that freedom gives to people and states. And such a struggle – for freedom and against tyranny – is quite comprehensible for any society, in any corner of our planet.

In the evening I signed decrees on awarding our heroes. Our brave defenders thanks to whom Ukraine has survived and is holding on despite everything that Russia is trying to do to break us.

Therefore, 203 servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were awarded. And 16 servicemen of the Main Intelligence Directorate.

Once again, I congratulate all warriors in infantry units on their professional holiday.

Glory to all our defenders!

Eternal memory to everyone who gave their lives for Ukraine!

Glory to Ukraine!

Feinstein’s Senility REPRESENTS TODAY’S CALIFORNIAN VOTERS WELL, don’t you think?

 MAY 7, 2022 BY STEVEN HAYWARD at PowerLine:


Looks like Dianne Feinstein isn’t taking the hint. So, New York Timesyou’re up next!

These days, however, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the trailblazing Democratic power broker who has served in the Senate for 30 years, is far from the towering presence she once was on the American political stage.

At 88, Ms. Feinstein sometimes struggles to recall the names of colleagues, frequently has little recollection of meetings or telephone conversations, and at times walks around in a state of befuddlement — including about why she is increasingly dogged by questions about whether she is fit to serve in the Senate representing the 40 million residents of California, according to half a dozen lawmakers and aides who spoke about the situation on the condition of anonymity.

On Capitol Hill, it is widely — though always privately — acknowledged that Ms. Feinstein suffers from acute short-term memory issues that on some days are ignorable, but on others raise concern among those who interact with her.

Ms. Feinstein is often engaged during meetings and phone conversations, usually coming prepared and taking notes. But hours later, she will often have forgotten those interactions, said the people familiar with the situation, who insisted that they not be named because they did not want to be quoted disparaging a figure they respect.

Some of them said they did not expect her to serve out her term ending in 2024 under the circumstances, even though she refuses to engage in conversations about stepping down.

recent article in The San Francisco Chronicle, her hometown paper, reported that some of Ms. Feinstein’s colleagues believe she is mentally incompetent to serve. . .

One Democratic lawmaker who had an extended encounter with Ms. Feinstein in February said in an interview that the experience was akin to acting as a caregiver for a person in need of constant assistance.

My hunch is that the situation is actually worse than people are letting on in these repeated “news” stories. There’s nothing in this Times story that isn’t a mere repeat of the first Chronicle story. It hardly qualifies as “reporting.” (Yes, I know, that can describe a lot of Times articles. . .)

Take this as yet another sign of Democratic paranoia. It’s a memo to Gavin Newsom: have someone ready to go at a moment’s notice, because the Senate calendar is counting down, and Democrats need every vote—if they can even get things to the floor. Also, California already has one appointed Senator (quick—can you name him?), and going into the 2024 it would be best to have another appointed Senator with time to build up political capital. The longer Feinstein waits to leave the scene, the more vulnerable the seat becomes, even in deep blue California.

UPDATE: And yes, I should have added that the Feinstein drill may be a rehearsal for what the media-left complex will need to run for Biden next year.

What’s Moving On?

May 7, 2022

What ‘Moving On’ Has Cost Us

By Mark Landsbaum at American Thinker:

This is the real difference between Donald Trump and the political establishment, whether Republican or Democrat. The esteemed “conservative” Wall Street Journal editorial board has called on Wisconsin authorities to ignore a preliminary investigation report by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman that found unethical and illegal acts that he says should prompt the state legislature to “take a hard look” at decertifying the 2020 election.

The Journal says Wisconsin should instead be practical and play it politically safe. In its editorial, the Journal urges Republicans to move on and concentrate on defeating incumbent Democrat Gov. Tom Evers rather than “chasing ghosts.”

For his part, Trump says if investigation is halted, perpetrators will be emboldened to cheat again in this year’s elections.

The “conservative” Journal finds itself arguing the democratic party’s standard talking point: “Move on.” That preference reveals the extent of the swamp that voters chose Trump to drain in 2016. It’s a bipartisan cesspool and even conservative media champions are caught in the bog.

It’s also nothing new. Republicans have traditionally conformed to the “move on” mentality after every election. After his 1960 loss, Richard Nixon declined to pursue JFK’s obvious election chicanery.

Republicans may score points with voters by complaining about democrats’ election and governing abuses. But when they must choose to actually do something about it or move on, they move on.

The same theme is playing out regarding the COVID theater of the absurd that devastated the economy, granted Democrat authorities virtual dictatorial control and cost thousands of citizens their jobs, constitutional protections, and in far too many cases, their lives.

In the mold of Donald Trump, Kentucky’s Sen. Rand Paul has vowed to bring the effective ringleader of the COVID scam to justice by promising to investigate Anthony Fauci’s questionable handling of the crisis.

Anyone familiar with Paul doesn’t doubt that he intends to bring the Senate’s investigative powers to bear on Fauci. Anyone familiar with the Republican party’s track record also knows the party will not allow such an investigation to extend to indictments of Fauci and co-conspirators, irrespective of what is uncovered.

Republicans, as a party and as a mindset, are incapable of enforcing justice even when enjoying control of both houses of Congress and the White House. When they reach the threshold requiring a decision, they inevitably choose to “move on” instead. That’s why Trump failed to drain the D.C. swamp. He couldn’t do it alone and is own party didn’t have the courage to take that decisive step.

As Trump put it: “Ignorance is not bliss. Sky high inflation, threats of World War III, and the invasion across our borders are a direct consequence of the stolen 2020 election. What happened in 2020 can never be allowed to happen again!”

As any honest judge, prosecutor, or cop will attest, when wrongdoers are permitted to get away with it, you can expect more wrongdoing. Republicans and ostensibly conservative newspaper pundits loathe to face that reality.

Rather than make the hard decision to pursue wrongdoers to prevent future wrongdoing, they choose instead to move on.

As a result, the nation will get more of what the swampish national political culture produced in 2020. Wisconsin’s Gableman concluded “that without full access to information, [investigators] are unable to provide robust conclusions.”

Or, as Trump puts it with his characteristic plain talk: “Voters know that unless we fix what happened in 2020, those who stole the 2020 election will try to do it again in 2022.”

It’s politically dicey to pursue what mainstream media has characterized from Day 1 as a “conspiracy theory.” The CIA coined that phrase half a century ago as a pejorative expressly to discourage talk and publication that conflicted with the government’s position that Lee Harvey Oswald alone was responsible for President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

It worked.

For decades only the most courageous — joined with the habitually distrustful — dared to buck the official government talking points. But Americans aren’t stupid. In ensuing decades polls showed that upwards of 80% of Americans considered the government case to be a lie and believed a conspiracy killed JFK. But by then, the powers that be had moved on. Chalk it up as another victory for the swamp.

Living with accepting the lie when they knew better created arguably the first major crisis of confidence in government for this nation. Few have trusted government to be forthcoming ever since. Few in government have bothered to be truthful ever since. The MO that works politically to put unpleasant realities behind us is to move on.

Wisconsin faces a pivotal decision as to whether to give investigators more time and encouragement to get to the bottom of what Gableman so far has found to be a swamp-sized nest of illegalities. If he’s ignored, expect more of the same in this election and the next.

Mark Landsbaum is a Christian retired journalist, former investigative reporter, editorial writer, and columnist.  He also is a husband, father, grandfather, and Dodgers fan.  He can be reached at mark.landsbaum@gmail.com


Kamala the Office Tart

An object lesson in how not to conduct yourself as the world burns.

By Elizabeth Fortunato at American Greatness:

May 5, 2022

Kamala Harris can never seem to catch a break. She keeps making headlines for the wrong reasons. Her disastrous recent appearances in Europe and domestically have been the subject of much derision. Harris’ absence at the southern border has drawn intense scrutiny, especially since Joe Biden appointed her “border czar” and asked her to determine and remedy the root causes of the current migration crisis.  

She’s been plagued by high-level staff resignations, and, like her boss, she continues to be prone to gaffes and incomprehensible word-salad oratory. Her unique laugh, the product of ill-preparedness and stress, makes her appear vapid. She doesn’t appear to do much work, nor does she seem to care about it. 

Biden’s mental infirmity is more visible by the day. Harris’ ascension to our country’s highest office may be closer than anyone wants to acknowledge. In considering a potential Harris presidency, one must seriously consider what, if any, qualifications she actually possesses for the job. 

It is abundantly clear that Harris is the prototypical office tart who uses sexual favors as her most important qualification for advancement. Her tawdry relationship with former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown was her introduction to politics and led to her election as San Francisco district attorney. 

She subsequently failed to distinguish herself as California’s attorney general, U.S. senator, or as a presidential candidate. In none of these roles did she demonstrate any administrative or executive acumen. 

If Harris is president by 2024, her most vital selling point is that she will be the first woman to hold the office, and a woman of color at that. Democratic Party leaders and all her endorsers, past and present, tout those superficial characteristics as reasons for supporting her. 

Accomplishments? None to speak of. 

Harris is particularly fond of promoting herself as a role model for little girls. In her victory speech as vice president, clad in suffragette white, she declared: 

But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities, and to the children of our country, regardless of gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before.

No loving parent, however, wants to see his or her daughter achieve success the way Kamala Harris did. 

While adults may sigh, “That’s just how the world works,” we need to worry about Harris as a role model for little girls, especially young girls of color. Impressionable young women are already overexposed to the predatory feminism of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, and are most at risk. Harris in the Oval Office necessitates a national discussion on integrity as an internal virtue, far more praiseworthy than physical attributes like race, sex, and beauty.

Second-wave feminism sought to portray the office tart as an object of male oppression, and in popular movies and TV shows such as the 1980 hit “9 to 5,” inspired the role of Doralee Rhoads played by Dolly Parton. Doralee is the subject of vicious office gossip from other female protagonists, because Doralee seems to get gifts in return for sexual favors. Her coworkers come to her rescue when they realize the relationship is not consensual. Feminism struggles to reconcile feminine charms and wiles when a relationship is voluntary.  

Such was Loni Anderson‘s Jennifer Marlow, a brilliant, beautiful, and buxom woman who used her assets to infantilize her intellectually challenged boss and run the Cincinnati radio station WKRP. Anderson expressed her empowerment this way, and Mr. Carlson, her married boss, encouraged it while remaining sexually unfulfilled and ostensibly faithful to his wife.   

Out of the radio station, Anderson’s character seduced wealthy men into performing charitable acts. One Christmas episode sees her lover fly her and a group of orphans to Bethlehem for a holiday. It’s all OK because no one was hurt. Anderson’s character, although an office tart, was a hooker with a heart of gold.

These portrayals were not without consequence, however. The Center for Work-Life Policy found in 2010 that 15 percent of women admitted to forming relationships with married male superiors for corporate advancement, and 37 percent knew a colleague who engaged in this form of corporate ladder climbing. 

The reality isn’t so simple. Competent women who won’t “put out” are passed over and discriminated against. The office tart sets up her successors to be sexually harassed by empowering her superiors to expect and make sexual demands. Recall, for example, Allison Gollust at CNN and her notorious “open-secret” relationship with ousted CEO Jeff Zucker. Is it any wonder Chris Cuomo, his brother Andrew, and others felt similarly empowered to demand favors from their subordinates?

Yet, the biggest issue created for corporations and governments is when an infamously incompetent worker promotes to high levels on the couch. Kamala Harris presents such an issue. She was drafted based on her appearance, sex, and race. Activists on both sides raised questions about her professional competence and integrity during her rise, but it was all for naught. Now the country is suffering and will continue to suffer the consequences. 

All parents can do is use Harris as an example of how not to conduct yourself as the world burns.

About Elizabeth Fortunato

Elizabeth Fortunato is a wife and mother from New York. She has a background in liberal arts and philosophy.


Mary Cassatt’s Work Embodies The Essence Of Mother’s Day

BY: BETH HERMAN at the Federalist:

MAY 06, 2022

Mary Cassatt painting mother

Mother’s Day is the perfect time to take a fresh look at the life, legacy, and Impressionist paintings of Mary Cassatt.

Author Beth Herman profile


Mother’s Day on Sunday is the perfect time to take a fresh look at the paintings, life, and legacy of Mary Cassatt. If you have time to make the trip to Richmond, there’s an excellent exhibit highlighting Cassatt’s work at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Full disclosure here: I am quite a Cassatt fan. While leading school tours as a docent at The National Gallery of Art, I love to delve into Cassatt’s work, especially “The Boating Party.” The painting makes the viewer feel as if they too are present in the rowboat. You almost can smell the sea air, feel the breeze gently flapping your clothes, and enjoy the warmth of the sun. With its deep blues and greens, flattened shapes, and unusual angles, the painting demonstrates the influence of Japanese prints, extremely popular in Paris in the late 1800s. 

Mary Cassatt – The Boating Party – Google Art ProjectPublic Domain

The City of Light is where Cassatt studied and settled, along with other significant American artists highlighted in the Richmond exhibit, “Whistler to Cassatt: American Painters in France,” including John Singer Sargent, Thomas Eakins, Frank Benson, Winslow Homer, and two of my particular favorites:  Childe Hassam and the legendary teacher Robert Henri.

But it is the Cassatt works, including ten paintings from 1877 -1897, and six pastels executed before 1901, that captured my attention most. 

 As her sojourn in Paris shows, Cassatt’s story is nearly as impressive as her work. She was born in 1844 to a well-off Pennsylvania family that strongly believed in educating women. Following a childhood in which she and her family traveled to Europe, she convinced her parents, after five years of study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, to allow her to move to Paris to paint.

Working Around the All-Boys Club

The center of the modern art scene was very much of an all-boys club at the time of Cassatt’s arrival in 1865. Its premier school, Ecole des Beaux-Arts, did not accept female students. But Cassatt didn’t waste time grousing about not being permitted to sketch nude models with the men. Instead, she copied the Old Masters in prestigious museums like The Louvre, a training technique still practiced today, and studied in the studios of established painters.

Eventually her work caught the attention of Edgar Degas. Impressed with Cassatt’s ability to distill a moment in time on canvas, the renowned painter invited her to exhibit with the Impressionists in 1877, thus beginning a long, supportive, and intense friendship between the two artists.

Cassatt agreed to join the exhibition, but like Degas himself, came to dislike the label “Impressionist.” That brings me to the third admirable quality about Cassatt: her commitment to authenticity. In today’s vernacular we would say, “She knew who she was.”

During an era when the glamour, glare, and sophistication of the Paris art scene and nightlife drew painters like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas, she stayed true to herself and her love of domestic life. Images of women and children became the artist’s specialty.

Original Portrayal of Motherhood

We see them in the Richmond show in two rooms dedicated to her work: serene, quiet scenes of ladies reading or sewing, and youngsters lost in the wonderment of play. Most moving, however, are Cassatt’s canvases of mothers and children, which capture moments of warmth and tenderness that have become icons of great art.

In addition to her undeniable skill, what makes Cassatt’s mother and child paintings unique is her turn away from the manner in which these subjects were traditionally painted. Instead of straight-on family portraits, she captured her sitters engaged with one another in a cinematic moment.

Take her predecessor, French painter Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. In her famous work, “The Marquise de Pezay, and the Marquise de Rouge With Her Sons Alexis and Adrien,” (1787), three of the four sitters stare out toward the viewer. There’s no sense of interaction or connection. 

Wikimedia / public domain

Skip ahead 100-plus years to her near-contemporary and fellow American portraitist John Singer Sargent. “Mrs. Cazalet and Her Children, Edward and Victor,” painted in 1901, and “Mrs. Fiske Warren and Her Daughter” (1903), are beautifully executed, but both feature the sitters staring straight ahead, like a typical family photo.  

Engaging Style

Cassatt’s work, by contrast, captures the private interaction between mother and child. Instead of serving as a simple family record, the sitters are absorbed in each other and their mutual activity, oblivious to the viewer or our reaction.   

But rather than excluding the audience from this private moment, Cassatt’s technique has the opposite effect. It draws us in, providing a window into the intimate exchange at its most authentic, in keeping with the naturalism prevalent in art and literature at the time.

“Mother and Child” from 1893, for example, is an intense study of emotional attachment. The baby’s hand gently cupping the mother’s chin as its hooded eyes hover between consciousness and sleep, while the mother looks down in fascination and tenderness at her beautiful child.

Wikiart, public domain.

“Baby in a Dark Blue Suit, Looking Over His Mother’s Shoulder” (1883-85) is a quiet moment awash in blues. Like “The Boating Party,” it evokes senses beyond the visual. I can almost hear the sucking sound of the baby’s fingers in his mouth, feel the weight of this squirmy bundle on his mother’s lap, and experience the warmth of the mother’s embrace.

Wikimedia, public domain

You needn’t have children to be moved by Cassatt’s work. In fact, the artist remained unmarried and childless throughout her life, devoting her energies to her art. But few other artists, in my estimation, have been so prolifically successful in painting the motif of mother and child. In transforming quiet domestic moments into enduring scenes of intimacy, tenderness, and love, Cassatt’s work embodies the essence of Mother’s Day.