Portraits of friends and acquaintances abound in the work of Impressionist artist Mary Cassatt. This pastel marks a rare instance of a work completed while traveling in the United States, where Cassatt spent eighteen months, beginning in January 1898, after more than twenty years living in France. The work was given to the sitter as a token of friendship by the artist, but the unfinished quality of the pastel suggests the hurried nature of completing a drawing while traveling and away from one’s studio.
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