Stretcher: 73.3 x 60 x 3.8cm (28 7/8 x 23 5/8 x 1 1/2")
Frame: 94.6 x 80.3 x 8.9cm (37 1/4 x 31 5/8 x 3 1/2")
Clothing & Apparel\Dress Accessory\Headgear\Hat
Mary Stevenson Cassatt: Visual Arts\Artist\Printmaker\Etcher
Mary Stevenson Cassatt: Visual Arts\Artist\Painter
Mary Stevenson Cassatt: Visual Arts\Artist\Painter\Portraitist
Mary Stevenson Cassatt: Business and Industry\Businessman\Dealer\Art
Mary Stevenson Cassatt: Visual Arts\Artist\Painter\Pastelist
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and the Regents' Major Acquisitions Fund, Smithsonian Institution
Born Allegheny City, Pennsylvania
The American impressionist Mary Cassatt spent her career in Europe, settling in Paris. Stifled by tradition, she regarded her exposure to the work of Edgar Degas in 1874 as a “turning point in my artistic life.” She later wrote that “Degas’s art is for the very few,” recognizing a critical sophistication required to appreciate his innovations. After her rejection by the Paris Salon of 1877, Cassatt welcomed Degas’s invitation to exhibit with the impressionists in 1879. Cassatt and Degas engaged in lively dialogues about the depiction of modern life, and their vibrant artistic exchange is evident in her willingness to model for him on several occasions. They also collected each other’s work. Degas captures the collaborative nature of their friendship in this portrait, where Cassatt is shown in what may be a photography studio holding photographs, possibly reproductions of works of art, seated, as if in the midst of conversation.
Mary Cassatt, born Allegheny City, PA 1844-died Mesnil-Theribus, France 1926
oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 19 3/4 in. (65.2 x 50.1 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Victoria Dreyfus
Mary Cassatt spent a few months in Spain in the early 1870s. She went first to Madrid, where she copied the paintings of the Spanish masters, then established a studio in Seville. She made a series of paintings of Spanish life that emphasized the beauty and dress of the local women. This piece was exhibited at the 1874 Paris Salon under the title Ida, where it attracted the attention of French impressionist Edgar Degas. On seeing the work of Cassatt for the first time, Degas commented, “C’est vrai. Voilá quelqu’un qui sent comme moi” (It is true. There is someone who feels as I do).