Urgent Museum Notice

The Bath

Close up of The Bath

A print shows a dark-haired, light-skinned woman wearing a yellow dress and kneeling near a blue tub. Her right hand tests the water, and her left gently restrains a naked child who faces the opposite direction as if squirming away. Minimal shading flattens the space they occupy.

Mary Cassatt, The Bath, 1891; Soft-ground etching with aquatint and drypoint on paper, 12 3/8 x 9 5/8 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

The Bath
Mary Cassatt

In 1890, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris held a large-scale exhibition of Japanese prints that strengthened Mary Cassatt’s interest in printmaking. The exhibition inspired her to create a series of 10 color aquatints. The Bath is the first print in the series and derives from an extensive group of related works of mothers and children.

Japanese art influenced not only Cassatt’s choice of subject matter but also her technique and composition. Japanese woodblock prints commonly depicted women bathing children.

Cassatt’s woman and child are neither clearly European nor Asian. She rendered the figures and tub as two-dimensional shapes. Indeed, she almost completely eliminated the traditional shading and tonal variations that create the illusion of depth in Western art.

Cassatt, a prolific artist who created more than 220 prints during her career, produced The Bath in 17 editions; the National Museum of Women in the Arts owns a final impression.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Mary Cassatt
  • Title

    The Bath
  • Date

    1891
  • Medium

    Aquatint, Drypoint on paper, Soft-ground etching
  • Dimensions

    12 3/8 x 9 5/8 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay
  • Photo Credit

    Lee Stalsworth
  • On Display

    No