Mary Cassatt at the Louvre: The Etruscan Gallery

Edgar Degas French
Sitter Mary Cassatt American

Not on view

Degas depicted his close friend and fellow painter Mary Cassatt and her sister, Lydia, in this unconventional etching. Unlike the working-class women who served as his best-known subjects-ballet dancers, laundresses, and prostitutes-the Cassatt sisters were representative of his own station. Their status as prosperous and respectable women is reflected in their attire, deportment, and engagement in a leisurely activity. Degas portrayed Mary, who posed for the standing figure at right, with her back turned toward the viewer and her face hidden. Rather than looking out of the picture, her gaze is focused on an Etruscan sarcophagus bearing reclining figures that symbolize marital harmony-an ironic comment, perhaps, from Degas given that both sisters were unmarried.

Mary Cassatt at the Louvre: The Etruscan Gallery, Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris), Soft-ground, drypoint, aquatint, and etching; third state of nine

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