Portrait of the Artist

Artist: Mary Cassatt (American, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1844–1926 Le Mesnil-Théribus, Oise)

Date: 1878

Medium: Watercolor, gouache on wove paper laid down to buff-colored wood-pulp paper

Dimensions: 23 5/8 x 16 3/16 in. (60 x 41.1 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Bequest of Edith H. Proskauer, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.319.1


Mary Cassatt painted this self-portrait, one of only two known, a year after Edgar Degas invited her to exhibit with the Impressionists. His influence is apparent in the unusual sage-green background, the attention to contrasting complementary colors, and the figure’s daring and casual asymmetrical pose. Louisine Elder (later Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer), a young American art student Cassatt met in Paris in 1874, acquired this work by 1879. Havemeyer would become Cassatt’s great friend and American patron, donating much of her impressionist collection to this museum.