Mary Cassatt at Work

  • Mary Cassatt at Work
  • Mary Cassatt at Work
  • Mary Cassatt at Work
  • Mary Cassatt at Work
  • Mary Cassatt at Work
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A new study of Mary Cassatt that explores the centrality of work to both her inventive technical practice and her distinctive approach to modern subjects.   

In her sensitive depictions of the social, intellectual, and professional lives of modern women, Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926) often emphasized the work involved in the undervalued sphere of feminized activity. From her renowned portrayals of women and children that foreground the labor of caregiving—whether performed by hired help or mothers—to her representations of the myriad activities of bourgeois femininity in scenes of embroidering, theatergoing, and reading, her subjects are deeply engaged, and often engrossed, in what they are doing.

Highlighting Cassatt’s attention to women’s roles in the making of modern life, this study connects her recurring subjects and rigorous techniques to her own understanding of her status as a professional artist. Rather than inspiration, genius, or sentiment, it was intense effort that Cassatt most identified with, which resulted in an ever-evolving style that left the labors of art-making visible. Mary Cassatt at Work brings together more than 130 paintings, pastels, drawings, and prints to reveal what the artist referred to as her “hard work” and “effort upon effort.” Drawing on previously unpublished letters, Cassatt family correspondence, and groundbreaking insights from technical examination of her works, Cassatt’s carefully constructed professional identity is placed within the wider social context of Parisian modernity. 

About the Authors:

Jennifer A. Thompson is the Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting and Sculpture and Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection, and Laurel Garber is the Park Family Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings, both at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

  • Authors: Jennifer Thompson and Laurel Garber, with contributions by Dave Beech, Kathleen A. Foster, Nicole Georgopulos, Erica E. Hirshler, Teresa Lignelli, and Thomas Primeau
  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Philadelphia Museum of Art 
  • 304 pages, 11.4" x 8.5"
  • 242 color illustrations and 15 black and white illustrations
  • ISBN: 9780876333044 
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