Lilacs in a Window (Vase de Lilas a la Fenetre)

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

Date: ca. 1880–83

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 24 3/16 x 20 1/8 in. (61.5 x 51.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Partial and Promised Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Dillon, 1997

Accession Number: 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. Pure still life is a great rarity in her oeuvre, usually concentrated on the human figure. 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.