Lady at the Tea Table

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

Date: 1883–85

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 29 x 24 in. (73.7 x 61 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of the artist, 1923

Accession Number: 23.101


This work shows Mary Dickinson Riddle, Cassatt’s mother’s first cousin, presiding at tea, a daily ritual among upper-middle-class women on both sides of the Atlantic. Mrs. Riddle’s hand rests on the handle of a teapot, part of a gilded blue-and-white Canton porcelain service that her daughter had presented to the artist’s family. Painted in response to the gift, the portrait demonstrates Cassatt’s mastery of Impressionism in its sketchlike finish, the casual handling of anatomy, and the sitter’s indifference to the viewer. As Mrs. Riddle’s daughter disliked the portrait, Cassatt kept it until Louisine Havemeyer persuaded her to give it to The Metropolitan Museum of Art.