Mary Stevenson Cassatt was an Impressionist painter and printmaker who lived in France for most of her career. She was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, in 1844, unlike the majority of her European born contemporaries.
Despite her family’s opposition to her creative goals, Cassatt enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (in Philadelphia) while she was in her teens.
However, she became dissatisfied with the lack of resources and opportunities available to female students and dropped out in 1865 to move to Paris. She perfected her skills as a painter of female people and their intimate life there.
She rose to artistic prominence as a leading member in the Impressionist movement and was often likened to her close friend Edgar Degas, with whom she eventually battled over his anti-Semitic sentiments.
Cassatt often depicted the social and private lives of women, with a focus on the close relationships between mothers and children.
Cassatt has been a feminist and advocate for equal rights her whole life. Due to poor vision, she ceased painting in 1914 and died in 1926.
Mary Cassatt Famous Paintings
1. The Child’s Bath
Cassatt’s The Child’s Bath (or The Bath) is an 1893 oil painting that has become one of her most well-known works. The artwork maintains her focus in representing bathing and maternity, although it differs from the others in its perspective. Japanese woodcut prints and Edgar Degas influenced both the subject matter and the overhead viewpoint.
It was purchased by the Art Institute of Chicago in 1910 and has since become one of the museum’s most popular pieces.
The painting’s greatest distinguishing element is the angle of gaze, which gives the impression of floating over the landscape. This perspective pulls the viewer’s attention on the two characters while providing a full view of the surrounding area, yet it serves a purpose other than decoration.
The mother and child’s concealed facial emotions establish a psychological distance due to the slanted angle of view, while their gazes at the reflections in the water direct the spectator to focus on the action of bathing.
2. Little Girl in a Blue Armchair
Little Girl in a Blue Armchair is an 1878 oil painting that is housed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The picture was altered by Edgar Degas.
Degas most likely worked on the irregularly shaped area of floor between the seats, as well as the movement of light through the windows.
Degas’ influence can be seen throughout the work, including the asymmetrical composition, the use of pattern, and the cropping of the picture in the style of the Japanese prints he exposed Cassatt to.
He sees the photograph as a representation of the complacent dullness of a comfortable bourgeois existence, despite the child’s somewhat languid and suggestive attitude.
3. The Cup of Tea
The Cup of Tea is a picture by Mary Cassatt that is included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection. It was created in Paris between 1880 and 1881. Cassatt used Lydia, her sister, as a model.
Cassatt was an American painter who spent more than a decade in Europe. Cassatt’s themes, like those of other female painters of the time, were typically household settings.
These topics were chosen since women in Cassatt’s day were not allowed to go out alone. A “social ritual for upper-middle-class ladies” is shown in The Cup of Tea. Cassatt employed contrasting, complimentary hues in an impressionist style.
4. Young Mother Sewing
Young Mother Sewing, also known as Little Girl Leaning on Her Mother’s Knee, is a Mary Cassatt artwork from 1900. It is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection.
The painting portrays a mother sewing while sitting in front of a window. A small girl in a white dress sits on her mother’s knee, staring off the picture plane toward the spectator.
The lady is dressed in a striped outfit with a green apron that matches the greens in the grass outside the window. The artist employed two unconnected people as the mother and child, according to the Metropolitan Museum.
5. The Boating Party
The Boating Party is an oil painting by American artist Mary Cassatt that was completed in 1893. It has been in the National Gallery of Art’s collection since 1963.
Cassatt painted The Boating Party at Antibes, on the French Riviera, during the winter of 1893–1894. Cassatt lived with her mother in January and February 1894.
She had created the mural Modern Woman, commissioned for the Woman’s Building at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and the French state had opted to acquire one of her works for the Musée du Luxembourg.
The Boating Party depicts a sailboat with an unknown woman, baby, and man. The boat has a canoe stern, no boom, and three thwarts. The boat’s interior is described as yellow.
It is a rare painting in Cassatt’s oeuvre. While it depicts a mother and infant, the majority of her other paintings are set in interiors or gardens. It is also one of her most substantial oil works.
6. In the Loge
An 1878 Impressionist artwork In the Loge portrays a lady at the Garnier Opera wearing opera glasses and watching the opera while being watched by a male in the crowd.
Currently housed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
7. Girl Arranging Her Hair
Girl Arranging Her Hair is an 1886 artwork in the National Gallery of Art’s collection in Washington, D.C.
Degas and Cassatt had a difficult connection; Degas purchased the picture after seeing it at the 1886 eighth Impressionist exhibition, and it was falsely labeled as his own work after his death.
8. Child in a Straw Hat
Cassatt’s painting Child with a Straw Hat is one of several depicting little girls playing dress-up. Whereas Cassatt often depicted girls finding enjoyment in the process of role-playing, the child’s look here implies that she is not having fun.
Her attitude portrays a blend of pensiveness, annoyance, and boredom as she is isolated and obliged to remain motionless.
Mary Cassatt infused generally peaceful and unexceptional situations with significant vitality in handling and composition in her many representations of youngsters.
9. Lilacs in a Window
The painting Lilacs in a Window is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
It was once held by the Parisian art collector Moyse Dreyfus and is one of her rare still-lifes.
Cassatt met him via her Impressionist acquaintances, and he became a friend and early supporter. Mr. Moyse Dreyfus was shown by Cassatt in her exhibit at the Fourth Impressionist Exhibition in 1879.
Cassatt painted this self-portrait in watercolor in 1880, a year after she started exhibiting her work among the French impressionists.
She playfully reverses assumptions by concealing her drawing surface.
Green strokes on the right backdrop indicate wallpaper, while a flood of brilliant yellow on the left depicts the sunshine that streams over the artist’s shoulders and puts her face into darkness.
Cassatt’s drawing’s powerful strokes, emphasizing color, emotion, and motion, showcase her quick touch and the modernity of her style.