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“The Child’s Bath” by Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt - The Child's Bath

“The Child’s Bath” by Mary Cassatt

“The Child’s Bath” by Mary Cassatt was inspired by Japanese woodblocks and depicts a mother or female carer bathing of a child. The female figure holds up the child firmly and protectively while washing the child’s feet. The left arm of the child braces against the mother’s thigh, while the other hand is holding on the child’s own leg. The painting reflects the dignity of motherhood.

Cassatt was heavily influenced by her fellow Impressionist peers, especially Edgar Degas. In 1890, she was struck by the prints of the Japanese woodcuts. Cassatt was drawn to the simplicity and clarity of the Japanese design, and the skillful use of blocks of color. Japanese prints and Degas inspired the perspective in this painting.

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. 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, allowing relatively more accessible educational opportunities, and she 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.

The Child’s Bath or The Bath

  • Title:                    The Child’s Bath
  • Artist:                  Mary Cassatt
  • Year:                    1893
  • Medium:             Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions        100.3 cm × 66.1 cm (39.5 in × 26 in)
  • Museum:            Art Institute of Chicago

Mary Cassatt

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“There are two ways for a painter: the broad and easy one or the narrow and hard one.”
– Mary Cassatt


Photo Credit: Mary Cassatt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons