Art of the Week

Mary Cassatt (1845-1927)
Antoine Holding Child, 1905
Drypoint on beige Hollande paper, 23 x 17 cm.

Mary Stevenson Cassatt was an American painter and printmaker. She lived much of her adult life in France, where she first befriended Edgar Degas and later exhibited among the Impressionists. Cassatt’s work with the Impressionists, especially Degas and Édouard Manet, influenced her technique, composition and use of color and light. Degas encouraged her experiments in printmaking. Cassatt and other artists experimented with graphic techniques in the hopes of creating a new print journal. Although the journal never came to fruition, this work became very important to Cassatt in her development as a printmaker and a painter.

Cassatt often created images of the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children. Her popularity is based on a series of paintings and prints of mothers and children. Early on, the subjects of these works were her friends and family. Toward the end of her career, she used professional models and her compositions were influenced by Renaissance Madonnas and Child. After 1900, she concentrated almost exclusively on mother and child subject matter.

Her failing eyesight prevented her from working for the last 15 years of her life, but because she had been an exceptionally prolific printmaker, she produced more than 220 prints during the course of her career.

  • Breeskin, Adelyn Dohme, Mary Cassatt : a catalogue raisonné of the graphic work / Washington : Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979. QUARTO NE539 .CA4 1979
  • Mathews, Nancy Mowll. Mary Cassatt / New York : Abrams in association with National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1987.QUARTO N6537 .C35 M3 1987
  • Getlein, Frank. Mary Cassatt : paintings and prints / New York : Abbeville Press, c1980. QUARTO N6537 .C35 G47 1980
  • Images of modern motherhood in the art of Morisot, Cassatt, Modersohn-Becker, Kollwitz. By: Buettner, Stewart. Woman’s Art Journal, Fall86/Winter87, Vol. 7, p14-21, 8p; DOI: 10.2307/1358300
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