One of The Great American Painters
by Kristen Salerno
Mary Cassatt painted most of her work in France and consisted mainly of "mother and child" and figurative work.
She first met Degas in the 1870's after he saw her work in one of the Parisian galleries and claimed "Here is someone who feels as I do!" There may have been a romantic effect between them but we'll never know because she burnt all his letters before she died.
Prolific in pastels and less so in oils, Cassatt handled soft forms (like a child's arms) with extreme subtlety and superimposed layers on top of layers.
Most of her pastels are lightly and freshly handled with a gossamer touch. A great example of this is "Mother and Child" (1914) which is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Note in this pastel the subtlety of cross-hatching.
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