The Metropolitan Museum of Art is fortunate to own more than 100 paintings, prints, and pastels by Mary Cassatt. Widely heralded for her sensitive mother-and-child scenes, a theme she embraced after 1893, Cassatt portrayed a variety of figurative subjects throughout her career, such as her family, the theater, and the opera. Visitors can view the work of this perennially popular artist in the Museum’s galleries and online.
Cassatt was also keenly interested in the upscale fashions of her day, both as a consumer and chronicler—she often focused on clothing in her work, such as The Bonnet, below. A well-dressed woman of means who lived for many years in France, she reportedly ordered bespoke garments to send to prosperous family and friends back in the United States.
In The Met’s blockbuster exhibition Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, Cassatt appeared as both subject and artist. Her rare self-portrait of 1878 (below) shows her in a lacy white dress and matching gloves, complete with a chic flowered bonnet tied around her neck with a large bow.
Her mentor and friend Edgar Degas depicted her in a fashion-forward walking suit and sleek parasol in Mary Cassatt at the Louvre: The Etruscan Gallery, below. In this regard, Cassatt (like Berthe Morisot) successfully negotiated the influential Impressionist movement as both a gifted producer and a stylish model—an impressive achievement for a 19th-century woman.
Among Cassatt’s works in The Met collection is Lilacs in a Window, below, a rare example of a still life by the artist. This beautiful bouquet is available from The Met Store as a print reproduction, shown below.
Also in The Met are Lydia Crocheting in the Garden at Marly at top and Portrait of a Young Girl, below. Such works illuminate the late 19th-century trend for portraits painted en plein air, away from the confines of the artist’s studio. The sun-dappled light and relaxed settings of these scenes gave Impressionists like Cassatt ample opportunities to capture the multifaceted moods and hues of the out-of-doors.
Born on this day in 1844, this singular talent left an indelible artistic legacy that we celebrate today. Find two of her works in The Met at Met Custom Prints, which you can customize to suit your space and decor. Happy birthday, Mary Cassatt!