Lilacs in a Window (Vase de Lilas à la Fenêtre), ca. 1880–83
Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926)
Oil on canvas; 24 3/16 x 20 1/8 in. (61.5 x 51.1 cm)
Partial and Promised Gift of Susan and Douglas Dillon, 1997 (1997.207)
A dark aubergine vase containing purple and white lilacs is shown placed on what seems to be a sill or work surface in a greenhouse, with the adjacent window held open by a prop. This most simple of subjects is presented with an angular fluency and dash characteristic of Cassatt's best work, which is not surprising given her love of gardens and flowers. Cassatt, who concentrated on portraying the human figure, rarely painted pure still life. However, on occasion she placed landscape or floral elements within her compositions as colorful backdrops and accents. This alluring picture was originally owned by Moyse Dreyfus, a Parisian collector, who was a friend and early patron of Cassatt.