'Mary Cassatt at Work' on view at Philadelphia Museum of Art through September 8

BySteph Walton WPVI logo
Monday, July 1, 2024
'Mary Cassatt at Work' on view at Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art is celebrating the work of Mary Cassatt, the only American considered part of the French Impressionist movement.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- 'Mary Cassatt at Work' is the first large-scale U.S. exhibition of the artist's work in 25 years.

"She's often known as a painter, but in fact, as the exhibition reveals, she was extraordinarily prolific with pastel drawing," says Jennifer Thompson, Curator of European Art for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Thompson says Cassatt made 380 pastels, including the work 'Young Thomas and His Mother.'

There are seven rooms and more than 130 works.

"She's most often associated with women and children," says Thompson. "Cassatt is very, very interested in women's lives."

The exhibition is arranged thematically.

There are galleries devoted to images of childcare, and images of handwork, like knitting or crocheting.

There is also a gallery dedicated to her printmaking.

"It is such a complex and Innovative part of her process," says Thompson.

Many pieces portray the domestic side.

"Cassatt is very subtly casting these images as images of work, mindful of the labor involved in caring for a child," she says.

Thompson says Cassatt brings a very modern style to what would seem like the most innocent of subjects.

"'Little Girl in a Blue Armchair' is a favorite work in the exhibition," she says. "It's often, for many people, a very recognizable piece. It is a painting in which we see a young girl kind of throwing off the work of social etiquette."

Cassatt never married or had children, choosing instead to devote herself to her art.

"She's an extraordinarily independent figure," says Thompson. "She loved her work and how much over a 60-year period it engaged her."

She studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before moving to France.

"Cassatt exhibits with the French Impressionists. She's very much considered one of them," she says.

Thompson says although Cassatt lived in France for 50 years, she never gave up her American identity.

The exhibition includes several works on view for the very first time.

"I think visitors will be pleasantly surprised to see favorites, and what we hope will be new favorites as well," says Thompson.

'Mary Cassatt at Work' is on view through September 8 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Mary Cassatt at Work | Tickets

Philadelphia Museum of Art

2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130