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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Paintings of Children by Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt - Françoise Holding a Little Dog

“Pastels of Children” by Mary Cassatt

“Françoise Holding a Little Dog” by Mary Cassatt is a pastel on paper, created in 1906. Cassatt admired Degas’s pastels, which had made a powerful impression on her when she first encountered them in an art dealer’s window in 1875. “I used to go and flatten my nose against that window and absorb all I could of his art,” she later recalled. “It changed my life. I saw art then as I wanted to see it.” This pastel and all of the following examples of “Pastels of Children” demonstrate Marry Cassett’s passion for pastel portraits and the enduring love of children.

Françoise Holding a Little Dog

  • Title:               Françoise Holding a Little Dog
  • Artist:             Mary Cassatt
  • Year:               1906
  • Medium:        Pastel on paper
  • Dimensions:   Height: 68.3 cm (26.8 ″); Width: 57.8 cm (22.7 ″)
  • Museum:        Huntington Library

“Girl in the Big Hat” by Mary Cassatt

Children by Mary Cassatt

Girl in the Big Hat

  • Title:               Girl in the Big Hat
  • Français:        Fillette au Grand Chapeau
  • Artist:             Mary Cassatt
  • Year:              1908
  • Medium:        Pastel on paper
  • Dimensions:  25 1/4 in x 19 1/2 in
  • Museum:        Huntington Library

Cassatt was born in what is now part of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, into an upper-middle-class family.  Her father was a successful stockbroker and land speculator who was a descend from a French Huguenot, who came to New Amsterdam in 1662. Her mother came from a banking family and was educated and well-read. The family moved eastward to the Philadelphia area, where she started her schooling.

Though her family objected to her becoming a professional artist, Cassatt began studying painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia at the age of 15. She continued her studies from 1861 through 1865, the duration of the American Civil War. At the Academy, Cassatt became exposed to feminist ideas of some of the male students. As such, Cassatt and her network of friends were lifelong advocates of equal rights for the sexes.

“Sara with her dog in an Armchair” by Mary Cassatt

Children by Mary Cassatt

Sara with her dog in an Armchair

  • Title:              Sara with her dog in an Armchair
  • Artist:             Mary Cassatt
  • Year:               1901
  • Medium:        Pastel on paper

Cassatt grew up in an environment that viewed travel as integral to education. She spent five years in Europe and visited many of the capitals, including London, Paris, and Berlin. While abroad, she learned German and French and had her first lessons in drawing and music. Her first exposure to French artists was at the Paris World’s Fair of 1855.

“Boy with Golden Curls” by Mary Cassatt

Children by Mary Cassatt

Boy with Golden Curls

  • Title:                Boy with Golden Curls
  • Portrait of:      Harris Whittemore, Jr.
  • Artist:             Mary Cassatt
  • Year:               1898
  • Medium:         Pastel on paper mounted on canvas
  • Dimensions:   30 1/2 in. x 26 3/8 in. x 2 3/16 in
  • Museum:        Yale University Art Gallery

“The Blue Child” by Mary Cassatt

Children by Mary Cassatt

The Blue Child

  • Title: L’Enfant bleu
  • Artist:              Mary Cassatt
  • Year:                1884
  • Medium:         Pastel
  • Dimensions:   44 × 43 cm
  • Museum:        Museum Langmatt

“Charles Dikran Kelekian” by Mary Cassatt

Children by Mary Cassatt

Charles Dikran Kelekian

  • Title:                Charles Dikran Kelekian
  • Subject:           The 12-year-old son of her friend and art consultant Dikran Kelekian.
  • Artist:              Mary Cassatt
  • Year:                1910
  • Medium:          pastel on beige, moderately thick, slightly textured paper
  • Dimensions:    Height: 65.4 cm (25.7 ″); Width: 54 cm (21.2 ″)
  • Museum:         Walters Art Museum

“The Pink Sash” by Mary Cassatt

Paintings of Children by Mary Cassatt

The Pink Sash

  • Title:                 The Pink Sash
  • Artist:               Mary Cassatt
  • Year:                 1898
  • Medium:           Pastel on paper
  • Dimensions:     24 x 19 ¾ in.
  • Museum:          Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA.

“Child with Red Hat” by Mary Cassatt

Paintings of Children by Mary Cassatt

Child with Red Hat

  • Title:                Child with Red Hat
  • Artist:               Mary Cassatt
  • Year:                 1904
  • Medium:          Pastel on light blue paper
  • Dimensions:     20 11/16 x 17 1/16 in. (52.6 x 43.4 cm)
  • Museum:           Clark Art Institute

“Ellen Mary Cassatt” by Mary Cassatt

Paintings of Children by Mary Cassatt

Ellen Mary Cassatt

  • Title:                  Ellen Mary Cassatt
  • Artist:                Mary Cassatt
  • Year:                  1899
  • Medium:           Pastel on laid paper,
  • Dimensions:      12 x 14 1/2 in. (30.5 x 36.8 cm)
  • Museum:          Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mary Cassatt

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844 – 1926) was an American painter and printmaker. She was born in Pennsylvania but lived much of her adult life in France, where she first befriended Edgar Degas and later exhibited among the Impressionists. While in France, Cassatt and Degas had an extended period of collaboration, and she also had contact with Renoir, Monet, and Pissarro. Cassatt often created images of the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children.

Cassatt enjoyed the wave of feminism that occurred in the mid-1800s. It allowed her relatively more accessible educational opportunities. She also became an outspoken advocate for women’s equality, campaigning with her friends for equal travel scholarships for students in the 1860s, and the right to vote in the 1910s. As a successful, highly trained woman artist who never married, she portrayed women and mothers with dignity and the suggestion of a more in-depth, meaningful inner life. Cassatt objected to being stereotyped as a “woman artist” and actively supported women’s suffrage.

Mary Cassatt

~~~

“I have touched with a sense of art, some people, and they felt the love and life.”
– Mary Cassatt

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Photo Credit: Mary Cassatt [Public domain]

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