Skip to main content

Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt
Edgar Degas, 19 Jul 1834 - 27 Sep 1917
Mary Stevenson Cassatt, 22 May 1844 - 14 Jun 1926
c. 1880-84
Oil on canvas
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")
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Seating\Chair
Mary Stevenson Cassatt: Female
Mary Stevenson Cassatt: Visual Arts\Artist\Printmaker\Etcher
Mary Stevenson Cassatt: Visual Arts\Artist\Painter
Mary Stevenson Cassatt: Visual Arts\Artist\Portraitist
Mary Stevenson Cassatt: Business and Finance\Businessperson\Dealer\Art dealer
Mary Stevenson Cassatt: Visual Arts\Artist\Painter\Pastelist
Mary Stevenson Cassatt: Legion of Honor
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and the Regents' Major Acquisitions Fund, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Allegheny City, Pennsylvania
The painter and printmaker Mary Cassatt was one of the few women (and the only American) invited to join the circle of French artists known as the Impressionists. Frustrated by the limited art training available to her in Philadelphia, Cassatt studied in France and Spain before settling in Paris in 1874. There, she said, exposure to the innovative work of Edgar Degas marked a “turning point in my artistic life.” At Degas’s request, she exhibited with the Impressionists in 1879, and the two artists began a professional relationship marked by vibrant artistic exchange. They collected each other’s work and shared ideas about the depiction of modern life.
Among the many portraits Degas made of Cassatt, this painting best captures the collaborative nature of their friendship. Leaning forward in her chair, Cassatt fans out a group of photographs before her, as if in the midst of discussing them with her portraitist.
Nacida en Allegheny City, Pensilvania
La pintora y grabadora Mary Cassatt fue una de las pocas mujeres (y la única estadounidense) invitadas a unirse al círculo de artistas franceses conocidos como impresionistas. Frustrada por la limitada formación artística que existía para ella en Filadelfia, estudió en Francia y España antes de radicarse en París en 1874. Allí, el contacto con el trabajo innovador de Edgar Degas marcó, en sus palabras, “un punto de inflexión en mi vida artística”. Invitada por Degas, expuso su obra con los impresionistas en 1879 y ambos iniciaron una relación profesional y un vibrante diálogo artístico. Cada uno poseía obras del otro y compartían ideas sobre los modos de representar de la vida moderna.
Entre los muchos retratos que Degas le hizo a Cassatt, este capta el carácter colaborativo de su amistad. Inclinada hacia adelante en su silla, Cassatt sostiene un abanico de fotografías, como si conversara sobre ellas con el pintor.
Cassatt collection, Paris c. 1884 - 1913; bought by Ambroise Vollard, April 1913, until at least 1917. Wilhelm Hansen, Copenhagen, 1918-1923. Acquired, possibly through (Galerie Barbazanges, Paris), by Kojiro Matsukata, 1923; Matsukata collection, 1923 -1951; bought by (Wildenstein and Co., New York), November 1951; bought by André Meyer, early 1952; (Meyer sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York), 22 October 1980, no. 24; acquired by (Galerie Beyeler, Basel); purchased through (Delbanco Arts, New York) by NPG, 1984.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Out of Many: Portraits from 1600 to 1900
On View
NPG, East Gallery 135