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Mary Cassatt Gallery     Prints.     Full biography.
Mary Cassatt (1844 - 1926)
Cassatt was born in Pittsburg and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. She traveled extensively through Europe with her parents and siblings and in 1874 she settled permanently in Paris. Although she had several works accepted for exhibition by the tradition-bound French Salon, her artistic aims aligned her with the avant-garde painters of the time and in 1877 she joined the impressionists. Her innovative compositions explore the lives of women - attending the opera, drinking tea, writing letters, caring for children in a straightforward manner free from sentimentality. She created an ambitious mural representing modern woman for the 1893 World's Fair.
Breakfast
Bath
Boating Party
Arranging Her Hair
Black Hat
Family
Dancer

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Breakfast in Bed (1897)
oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 29 inches
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

With its broken brush strokes and bright colors, Breakfast in Bed reflects the artist's aesthetic ties. The subject of a woman and child is a recurring theme in her work and this particular example is an especially telling treatment of the subject. With the child centrally placed in an upright pose, Cassatt depicts a quiet but charged moment in which a mother embraces her daughter, whose attention is elsewhere. Contrasting the mother's protective action and gaze with her offspring's curiosity with the world beyond her reach, Cassatt evokes the subtle tensions implicit in the relationship of parent to child.
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