Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926)
Oil on canvas
36 3/8 x 29 in. (92.4 x 73.7 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H.O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.48)
During the 1870s and 1880s, Cassatt often depicted women out and about in Paris, where she had settled in 1874. During the 1890s, she narrowed the range of her subjects to mothers or nurses caring for children and children alone. These themes reflected her affection for her nieces and nephews and her friends' children and her contemporaries' concern with motherhood and child rearing. Set in the conservatory of Cassatt's seventeenth-century manor house near Le Mesnil-Théribus, Oise, this painting depicts two of her favorite, unrelated models in the roles of mother and child. Louisine Havemeyer, who purchased the painting in 1901, remarked on its truth to experience: "Look at that little child that has just thrown herself against her mother's knee, regardless of the result and oblivious to the fact that she could disturb 'her mamma.' And she is quite right . . . . Mamma simply draws back a bit and continues to sew."