Mary Cassatt (American, 1844-1926)
Sheet - h:66.00 w:100.00 cm (h:25 15/16 w:39 5/16 inches)
The subject of mothers with their young children dominated Cassatt's late work. In this horizontal, friezelike arrangement, a mother is flanked by two children. A gentle rhythm is created by the three intertwined bodies, the siblings' hands linked at the center of the composition. The work suggests an Adoration of the Italian Renaissance, typically composed of the Virgin and Child with the young Saint John the Baptist. But here, Cassatt replaced the saint with a golden-haired little girl, making the sacred modern. The pastel is remarkable for the boldness of Cassatt's palette and handling. The daughter wears a brilliant orange dress highlighted with yellow that echoes the pale gold of her hair. In contrast, Cassatt used cool blue and green tones to articulate volume in the infant's body and to enliven the white and gray tones of the mother's dress.