Urgent Museum Notice

Mary Cassatt: Friends and Family

Installation view of a gallery space. One large and two smaller paintings and drawings are hanging on a yellow wall behind glass. The paintings depict women and are painted in an Impressionist style, with smooth brushstrokes and in light colors.
Nov 21, 2008, to Jan 25, 2009

Mary Cassatt: Friends and Family is an exhibition exploring the theme of friendship in Mary Cassatt’s art, and focuses in particular on the artist’s relationships with artists and collectors including Edgar Degas, Louisine Havemeyer, and Electra Havemeyer Webb.

Mary Cassatt (1844–1926), one of the most important artists that worked in Paris in the late 1880s, was the only American to join the ranks of the Impressionists’ circle. As an American, a woman artist, and an Impressionist, Cassatt embodied the essence of modernity and innovation, and she drew inspiration from those she knew best.

An avid painter of modern life, Cassatt turned her canvas on friends and family in an effort to follow the critical tenets of the impressionistic process: painting from lived experience and the visual truth. These friendships informed the private and public tracts of Cassatt’s career.

The exhibition brings together paintings, prints, photographs, and letters that reveal the fascinating interplay of American expatriates at the turn of the century when artists and patrons defined and shaped the course of modern art.

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

Exhibition Sponsors

Mary Cassatt: Friends and Family is organized by the Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont, and is presented by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Donna and Marvin Schwartz, Robert Lehman Foundation, The Lintilhac Foundation, and Mill Foundation. The presentation of Mary Cassatt: Friends and Family at the National Museum of Women in the Arts is generously sponsored by Julia and Michael Connors, the Honorable Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, an anonymous donor, and Washington Marriott Metro Center. Additional funding was provided by Sharon and William Stark and the Members of NMWA.