Lot 11
  • 11

Mary Cassatt

700,000 - 1,000,000 USD
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  • Mary Cassatt
  • A Goodnight Hug
  • Signed Mary Cassatt (lower right)
  • Pastel on brown paper laid down on board
  • 16 1/2 by 24 3/4 in.
  • 42 by 62.8 cm


Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (circa 1919-20)

Durand-Ruel Collection, Paris

Sam Salz Inc., New York

Stephen R. & Audrey Currier, The Plains, Virginia (acquired from the above by 1966 and sold by the Estate: Christie's, New York, June 1, 1984, lot 165)

Acquired at the above sale


Paris, 35 Boulevard des Capucines, 6ème exposition de peinture des Impressionnistes, 1881, no. 8 (titled Mère et Enfant)

Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Exposition de tableaux et pastels par Mary Cassatt, 1924, no. 30 (titled Caresse maternelle)

Philadelphia, McClees Galleries, 1931, no. 21 (titled Caresse maternelle)

New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Exhibition of Pastels by Mary Cassatt, 1932, no. 15 (titled Caresse maternelle)

Montclair, Montclair Art Museum, America Yesterday and Today, 1941, no. 9 (titled Caresse maternelle) London, Marlborough Fine Art Ltd., Mary Cassatt, 1953, no. 16 (titled Caresse Maternelle)

Washington, D.C., National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Mary Cassatt: Pastels and Color Prints, 1978, no. 4


Gustave Goetschy, "Exposition des artistes indépendants" in Le Voltaire, Paris, April 5, 1881, pp. 1-2

Armand Silvestre, "Le Monde des arts: Sixième exposition des artistes indépendants" in L'estafette, Paris, April 11, 1881, p. 3

Armand Silvestre, "Le Monde des arts: Sixième exposition des artistes indépendants" in La vie moderne, Paris, April 16, 1881, pp. 250-51

Elisée de Montagnac, "L'exposition du boulevard des Capucines" in La Civilisation, Paris, April 21, 1881, p. 2

Henry Trianon, "Sixième exposition de peinture par un groupe d'artistes: 35 boulevard des Capucines" in Le Constitutionnel, Paris, April 24, 1881, pp. 2-3

"An American Artist in Paris" in New York Evening Post, New York, April 25, 1881, p. 4

Ernest Hoschedé, "Les femmes artistes" in L'art de la mode, Paris, April 1881, pp. 55-57

Comtesse Louise, "Lettres familières sur l'art: Salon de 1881" in La France nouvelle, Paris, May 1-2, 1881, pp. 2-3

Penguin, "Art Abroad: Art in Paris, by Our Lady Correspondent" in Artist and Journal of Home Culture, London, May 1, 1881, vol. II, pp. 153-54

Joris-Karl Huysmans, "L'exposition des indépendants en 1881" in L'Art moderne, Paris, 1883, pp. 225-57

Édith Valerio, Mary Cassatt, Paris, 1930, illustrated pl. 3

Dorothy Grafly, "Studio Talk: Exhibitions: Lasting Fame Seen for Mary Cassatt, Brilliance Marks Her Paintings in New Exhibit Here" in Philadelphia Public Ledger, Philadelphia, January 18, 1931, p. 7.

"Mary Cassatt, A London Exhibition" in Illustrated London News, London, July 11, 1953, illustrated p. 73

Adelyn Dohme Breeskin, Mary Cassatt: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oils, Pastels, Watercolors, and Drawings, Washington, D.C., 1970, no. 88, illustrated p. 60

Nancy Hale, Mary Cassatt, Garden City, New York, 1975, p. 93

Nancy Mowll Mathews, Mary Cassatt and the "Modern Madonna" of the Nineteenth Century, New York, 1980, p. 68

Kate Flint, Impressionists in England: The Critical Reception, Boston, 1984, p. 42

Fronia E. Wissman, "Realists among the Impressionists" in The New Painting: Impressionism 1874-1886, Geneva & San Francisco, 1986, pp. 348, 350, 353; illustrated p. 348

Anne Higonnet, Berthe Morisot, New York, 1990, p. 159

Griselda Pollock, Mary Cassatt, New York, 1998, pp. 129, 185, 186, 180, illustrated pp. 152 & 193

Mary Cassatt Committee, Mary Cassatt: A New Catalogue Raisonné, www.marycassatt.com, no. 91, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1880, Goodnight Hug was one of Cassatt’s eleven entries, four oils and seven pastels, to the Sixth Impressionist Exhibition in 1881. Exhibited with the title Mère et Enfant, the present work represents a pivotal moment in Cassatt’s career. Pairing a tender study of motherhood with modern execution, dramatic cropping, and abstract patterning, Goodnight Hug and its themes would ultimately become hallmarks of the artist’s most influential work. The blue chair suggested in the abstract background elements is likely the same chair represented in Little Girl in a Blue Armchair of 1878, linking A Goodnight Hug with one of Cassatt's most well-known and widely reproduced paintings.

In many ways, the advancements made in the present work prefigure numerous important modern artistic developments of the late nineteenth century: “The fresco-like aspect of Cassatt’s works testifies to the emerging concern with the decorative and with decorative schemes in general in the 1880s and 1890s. One wonders if Gauguin was attempting a similar effect … Large, easily distinguished shapes, a planar organization, shallow space, a generally cool palette, and an even light that abolishes most shadows combine to produce an effect of calm and repose. Indeed, Cassatt’s Mère et Enfant not only uses these devices but adds the abstraction produced by the lost profiles and scribbled lines of pastel. These pictures … form a watershed of important artistic concerns" (F. E. Wissman, “Realists among the Impressionists” in The New Painting: Impressionism 1874-1886, Geneva & San Francisco, 1986, p. 350).

By the Sixth Impressionist Exhibition of 1881, Cassatt’s career had witnessed a meteoric rise in production, quality, and critical reception. Her output increased dramatically from only three pictures in 1877 to a record twenty-nine in 1880. Her third showing with the Impressionists was perhaps her most successful with regards to both critical reception and sales. She even received several glowing comments from the critic Albert Wolff in Le Figaro. Wolff, who was largely harsh and unsympathetic to the Impressionists, singled her out with special praise: “…Mlle Cassatt is a veritable phenomenon; in more than one of her works she is on the point of becoming a considerable artist, with an extraordinary feeling for nature, penetrating powers of observation, and an ability to subordinate herself to the model which is characteristic of the greatest artists…” (ibid., p. 349). The critic Elie de Mont claimed that Cassatt and her other female colleague, Berthe Morisot, were the only interesting artists exhibiting. Gauguin, however, was drawn to Cassatt’s entries in particular: “Miss Cassatt has as much charm, but she has more power [than Morisot]” (quoted in E. John Bullard, Mary Cassatt, Oils and Pastels, Washington, D.C., 1972, p. 15).

The present work, with its boundary-pushing abstraction and compassionate study of motherhood, won praise from even the most adversarial critics. These themes, presented masterfully in Goodnight Hug, would come to define Cassatt’s importance as a both a pioneering woman and thoroughly modern painter in the late nineteenth century.

This work will be included in the Cassatt Committee's revision of Adelyn Dohme Breeskin's catalogue raisonné of the works of Mary Cassatt.