“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.
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 skilful use of blocks of colour. 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.
- 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. Did she pioneer a path for female artists? Is she remembered today as a feminist?
- A trip to Egypt in 1910, so impressed Cassatt with the beauty of its ancient art, that she had a crisis of creativity. Why was Cassatt “crushed by the strength of this Art”?
- While in France, Cassatt and Degas had an extended period of collaboration, and she also had contact with Renoir, Monet, and Pissarro. How did Impressionism influence this painting?
Explore the American Wing Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET
- “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze
- “Portrait of Madame X” by John Singer Sargent
- “Mother and Child” by Mary Cassatt
- “Fur Traders Descending the Missouri” by George Caleb Bingham
- “The Gulf Stream” by Winslow Homer
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
- Name: Mary Stevenson Cassatt
- Born: 1844 – Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, United States
- Died: 1926 (aged 82) – Château de Beaufresne, near Paris, France
- Nationality: American
- Movement: Impressionism
- Notable Works
“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