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“Mother and Child” by Mary Cassatt

"Mother and Child" by Mary Cassatt

“Mother and Child” by Mary Cassatt

“Mother and Child” by Mary Cassatt depict a mother washing a child after getting up from his nap. The mother holds the child firmly and protectively while washing the child’s feet.

The right arm of the child embraces the mother’s neck and shoulder, while the other hand is used to balance its weight on the bed. The painting reflects the dignity of motherhood.

Cassatt’s artistic portrayal of women consistently reflected pride in the women’s role and the suggestion of a broader, more meaningful inner life.

Mary Cassatt

Cassatt was heavily influenced by her fellow Impressionist peers, especially Edgar Degas.

In 1890, she was struck by the prints of the Japanese woodcuts and 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 of this painting.

Mary Cassatt was a painter and printmaker, she was born in Pennsylvania, but she lived most of her adult life in France, where she befriended Edgar Degas and 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.

Mary Cassatt Insights

  • Cassatt enjoyed the wave of feminism that occurred in the 1840s, allowing her to access educational institutions at newly coed colleges and universities.
  • Cassatt was an outspoken advocate for women’s equality, campaigning for equal scholarships in the 1860s, and the right to vote in the 1910s.
  • A trip to Egypt in 1910, so impressed Cassatt with the beauty of its ancient art, that she had a crisis of creativity.
  • While in France,  Cassatt and Degas had an extended period of collaboration, and she also had contact with Renoir, Monet, and Pissarro.

Mother and Child (Baby Getting Up from His Nap)

  • Title:               Mother and Child (Baby Getting Up from His Nap)
  • Artist:              Mary Cassatt
  • Year:               1899
  • Medium:         Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:   36 1/2 x 29 in. (92.7 x 73.7 cm)
  • Museum:        Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

Mary Cassatt


MET European Paintings Collection

Mary Cassatt

MET Modern and Contemporary Art Collection

Mary Cassatt

MET American Wing Collection

Mary Cassatt, Suffrage, and Modern Women


“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’
then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

– Vincent Van Gogh


Photo Credit: [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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