Mary Cassatt, ‘The Bonnet’, 1891, Galerie d'Orsay

One of the twelve drypoint subjects, each published in an edition of 25, exhibited in March, 1890, in the Exposition des Peintres-Graveurs at the Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, and again in November-December, 1893, in the large, comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s paintings, pastels, drawings, and prints, also at the Galerie Durand-Ruel. A richly printed impression of Breeskin’s third and final state of this extremely rare etching printed after the addition of the diagonal lines of shading to the back of the mirror, from the edition of only 25. In excellent condition, printed on a sheet with wide margins.

Cassatt was an artist who found enormous inspiration in the medium of print but she was never a professional printmaker. As a result she saw her prints, like Degas and Pissarro, almost as individual objects, each proof a complete work, and the editions, if any, very restricted and not formalized. In drypoint she particularly enjoyed the quality of light which was created by the line - the way the ink blurred over the line and moved from a linear to a tonal effect. Her handling of the actual lines of shading and contour in the drypoints are of a wonderful sensitivity.

Cassatt’s involvement in Impressionism was not through landscape but through a modern realism. Her interpretation of light was concentrated on the way it affects the visual appearance of the figure. In her themes she found a totally personal and unique artistic language. Her creations are not idealized but depict real women seen in real everyday situations, expressed with a tenderness, sympathy and understanding which has untold depth of insight. Drawn direct from life the drypoints and etchings are amongst the great masterworks of Impressionist graphic art.

This fine drypoint is one of twelve works in this medium that were exhibited at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris in 1890 in the Exposition des Peintres-Graveurs. The group was exhibited again in 1893 at Durand-Ruel along with examples of Mary Cassatt’s paintings, pastels and drawings, as well as prints in other media. In addition to the twelve drypoints was a series of fourteen fine color prints, thirty-eight other etchings and one lithograph. This retrospective was one of the major exhibitions of the artist’s career. In her catalogue raisonné of the artist’s graphic work, Adelyn Breeskin comments on the prints shown in this exhibition as follows: “This particular group of prints was the culmination of all her earlier years of study. They are mature graphic works of the first quality, brilliantly executed and conceived, with comprehensive understanding of the basic elements of style, taste, and economy of means. They have a freedom and concentration that place them far above the work of the typical peintre-graveur of her time . . .”

Collections in which impressions of this state of this drypoint can be found: New York Public Library, Avery Collection, New York; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Massachusetts; The Brooklyn Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Maryland Institute of Art, Lucas Collection, Baltimore; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; The Art Museum of Princeton University, New Jersey.

Breeskin 137 iii/iii.

About Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt is widely acclaimed for her intimate scenes of mothers and children, such as Mother About to Wash Her Sleepy Child (1880), that are painted with quick brushstrokes in a pastel palette. Invited in 1877 by her friend and mentor Edgar Degas, Cassatt was one of three women—and the only American—to join a group of artists later known as the Impressionists, which included Claude Monet and Camille Pissaro. Influenced by the Japanese prints she collected, Cassatt developed a refined drawing style that blended European and Asian effects, increasingly creating figural compositions, like The Letter (1890), with flattened forms and harmonious color combinations.

American , 1844-1926, Philadelphia, PA, United States, based in Paris, France