Lot 43
  • 43

Mary Cassatt 1844 - 1926

Estimate
1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
Sold
670,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Mary Cassatt
  • Madame and Her Maid (Deux femmes [Madame et sa femme de chambre]; Madame et sa femme de chambre)
  • signed Mary Cassatt (lower right)
  • pastel on paper
  • 20  1/2  x 29  1/2  inches

Provenance

(likely) Ambroise Vollard, Paris
Private Collection, Paris
Arthur Tooth & Sons, London, by 1957
Florence J. Gould, New York, by 1970
Estate of Florence J. Gould (and sold: Sotheby’s, New York, April 24, 1985, lot 26, as Deux Femmes [Madame et sa femme de chamber])
Acquired at the above sale by A. Alfred Taubman

Exhibited

London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, Recent Acquisitions XII, November-December 1957, no. 8, illustrated (as Madame et sa femme de chamber)
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Mary Cassatt, 1884-1926, September-November 1970, no. 56, p. 28, illustrated

Literature

"Recent Acquisitions at Tooth's," Illustrated London News, November 23, 1957, p. 895, illustrated (as Madame et sa femme de chambre)
Adelyn Dohme Breeskin, Mary Cassatt, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oils, Pastels, Watercolors and Drawings, Washington, D.C., 1970, no. 241, p. 116, illustrated (as Madame et sa femme de chambre)
Nancy Hale, Mary Cassatt, Garden City, New York, 1975, p. 170
Pamela A. Ivinski, "Art in a Mirror: The Counterproofs of Mary Cassatt," The Magazine Antiques, vol. 166, November 2004, pp. 150-51
Cassatt Committee, Mary Cassatt: A New Catalogue Raisonné, www.marycassatt.com, no. 201, illustrated

Catalogue Note

In 1877 at the invitation of her friend Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt became the only American artist to join the French Impressionist group working in Paris, known collectively as the Independents. Although she initially studied with more traditional academic painters and regularly submitted her work to the Paris Salon, through her acquaintance with Degas Cassatt grew familiar with the techniques that would come to define the Impressionist style. She wrote to her friend Louisine Havemeyer around 1915, “How well I remember nearly forty years ago seeing for the first time Degas’s pastels in the window of a picture dealer in the Boulevard Haussman. I would go and flatten my nose against that window and absorb all I could of his art. It changed my life. I saw art then as I wanted to see it” (Louisine W. Havemeyer, Sixteen to Sixty, New York, 1961, p. 275). Cassatt admired Degas’ work in pastel in particular and his constructive criticism and continual efforts to introduce her to new techniques had a lasting effect on her development into a mature artist.

Like Degas, Cassatt became increasingly preoccupied with the pastel medium and by the 1890s it had become her primary means of expression. Pastel allowed Cassatt to reveal her accomplished draftsmanship while displaying a rich layering of color and tone, as demonstrated in Madame and Her Maid, which she executed circa 1893-97. In her essay on the artist’s methods during the 1890s, Harriet K. Stratis observes, “Cassatt’s pastels had begun to display new exuberance and to reveal more of her working process. …Over the years that had intervened since Cassatt’s early collaboration with Degas, two opposing tendencies emerged in her pastel technique. While she would always retain a high degree of finish in her sitters’ faces, she abandoned this treatment in their garments and surroundings. Certainly this attachment to physiognomic detail was driven in part by her desire as a portraitist to render an accurate likeness” (Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman, New York, 1998, pp. 217-19). The carefully defined representation of the figures’ faces in Madame and Her Maid contrasts with the expressive application of pigment Cassatt uses in the background of the composition. This latter technique imbues the work with an air of immediacy and spontaneity that suggests it was conceived from direct observation.
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