Cassatt created a series of theater scenes in the late 1870s, displaying an interest in city nightlife shared by many of the Impressionists. This work, showing a woman (often said to be her sister Lydia) seated in front of a mirror with the balconies of the Paris Opéra House reflected behind her, demonstrates the influence of Cassatt's friend Edgar Degas, particularly in the attention paid to the effects of artificial lighting on flesh tones. This painting was shown in Paris at the fourth Impressionist exhibition in 1879, where it was singled out for much praise.
Mary Cassatt’s (American, 1844–1926) paintings, pastels, and prints demonstrate her personal philosophy that “women should be someone and not something.” In domestic scenes, Cassatt explores the lives and occupations of women, showing them as active and engaged figures. She depicts women reading, caregivers bathing children, and ladies enjoying tea, sealing a letter, or driving a carriage.
Born in Pennsylvania, Cassatt was the only American to join the French Impressionists. Although she spent most of her life abroad, her family’s connections to Philadelphia have made the museum, which holds eighty-three artworks and numerous letters by Cassatt, an important center for her work.
Source: Philadelphia Museum of Art