Taking afternoon tea was a social ritual for many upper-middle-class women. Committed to portraying the ordinary events of everyday life, the artist made that ritual the subject of a series of works painted around 1880, when she had been living abroad for the better part of a decade. Her model for this canvas was her sister, Lydia, who had moved to Paris, along with their parents, in 1877 and often posed for her. Cassatt’s embrace of French Impressionism is signaled by her scintillating brushwork, high-keyed palette, and emphasis on contrasting complementary colors. Cassatt showed the painting to critical acclaim in the 1881 Impressionist exhibition.
Signature: [at lower left]: Mary Cassatt
With Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paris, 1891–95; with Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York, 1895; with Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paris, 1895–1911; James Stillman, Paris and New York, 1911–18; his son, Dr. Ernest G. Stillman, New York, 1918–22
Artist: Mary Cassatt (American, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1844–1926 Le Mesnil-Théribus, Oise)Date: ca. 1891Medium: Drypoint; first state of five (Mathews & Shapiro)Accession: 32.109.11On view in:Not on view
Artist: Mary Cassatt (American, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1844–1926 Le Mesnil-Théribus, Oise)Date: 1896–97Medium: Drypoint on blue paper; third state of five (Mathews & Shapiro)Accession: 29.107.95On view in:Not on view