The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Mary Cassatt: Drawings and Prints in The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Most of the Metropolitan Museum's extensive collection of drawings and prints by the late-19th-century American artist Mary Cassatt will be exhibited from October 20, 1998, through January 24, 1999, in Mary Cassatt: Drawings and Prints in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. To be installed in the Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art, the exhibition will feature works whose display time is limited by conservation concerns and will coincide with a major retrospective of Cassatt at the Art Institute of Chicago .

The Eugenie Prendergast exhibitions of American Art are made possible by a grant from Jan and Warren Adelson.

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) was the quintessential American artist of her era in search of the European artistic experience. Following study in Philadelphia, France, and Italy, she settled in Paris in 1875. Edgar Degas, who had seen one of her paintings in the 1874 Salon, invited her to show with the Impressionists. Cassatt was the only American who wholeheartedly embraced their style as early as the mid-1870s, as well as the only American whose works hung in their exhibitions. Her wonderfully informal self-portrait of about 1878, included in the exhibition, reflects her appreciation of their candid style.

Using the Impressionist vocabulary, Cassatt created an artistic language based on the lives of women in and around Paris. As will be seen in the exhibition, she depicted her subjects -- often members of her family -- attending the opera (In the Opera Box, ca. 1880), visiting the parks (Feeding the Ducks, ca. 1895), at tea (Afternoon Tea Party, ca. 1891), and engaging in such mundane activities as their daily toilette (Woman Bathing, ca. 1891).

In 1880 she began exploring what would become her signature theme after 1893: mothers or nurses tending to children. These later works are especially well represented in the exhibition by pastel drawings such as Nurse Reading to a Little Girl, 1895; Mother Playing with Child, ca. 1897; Nurse and Child, 1897; and Mother Feeding Child, 1898. All of Cassatt's pastels reveal her forceful use ofthe medium, cultivated under the influence of Degas and Edouard Manet. A selection of her more than 200 prints shows her command of drypoint, soft-ground etching, aquatint, or a combination of all three techniques.

Works in the exhibition reflect the generous interest of several individuals in both the artist and the Metropolitan: majestic color prints donated in 1916 by renowned connoisseur Paul J. Sachs; pastels that were part ofthe 1922 gift from the collection of New York banker James Stillman, by his son; pastels and prints that were included in the 1929 bequest of Cassatt's great friend, Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer; and pastels and prints that were given over the years by Mrs. Gardner Cassatt, the artist's niece by marriage. The most recent addition to the Museum's rich holdings of drawings by Cassatt is Adaline Havemeyer in a White Hat, 1898, given by Mrs. Havemeyer's descendants and included in the exhibition.

Mary Cassatt: Drawings and Prints in The Metropolitan Museum of Art is organized by H. Barbara Weinberg, The Alice Pratt Brown Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, and Elliot Bostwick Davis, Assistant Curator, Drawings and Prints. Conservation of the drawings and prints in the exhibition was undertaken by Majorie Shelley, Conservator in Charge, Department of Paper Conservation. Exhibition design is by Michael Langley, Exhibition Designer; graphic design is by Jill Hammarberg, Graphic Designer; and lighting is by Zack Zanolli, Lighting Designer.

From top to bottom: Portrait of the Artist, 1878, Gouache on wove paper laid down to buff-colored wood pulp paper, 23 5/8 x 16 1/4 in. (60. 1 x 41.2 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Edith H. Proskauer, 1975; Nurse and Child, 1895-97, Pastel, on wove paper (originally blue), mounted on canvas,31 1/2 x 26 1/4 in. (80 x 66.7 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Ralph J. Hines, 1960; Mother Playing with Child, ca. 1897, Pastel, on colored wove paper, 25 1/2 x 31 1/2 in. (64.8 x 80 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from the Collection of James Stillman, Gift of Dr. Emest G. Stillman, 1922; Adaline Havemeyer in a While Hat, 1898, Pastel on paper, 25 1/2 x 20 in. (64.8 x 53.3 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of members of the family of Adaline Havemeyer Frelinghuysen, 1992; Afiernoon Tea Party, ca. 1891, Drypoint and aquatint printed in colors; fifth state, 13 5/8 x 10 1/2 in. (34.6 x 26.7 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Paul J. Sachs, 1916

Read more about the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 11/26/10

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