Portrait of the Artist

Artist: Mary Cassatt (American, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1844–1926 Le Mesnil-Théribus, Oise)

Date: 1878

Medium: Watercolor, gouache on wove paper laid down to buff-colored wood-pulp paper

Dimensions: 23 5/8 x 16 3/16 in. (60 x 41.1 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Bequest of Edith H. Proskauer, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.319.1


Cassatt painted this self-portrait, one of only two known, a year after Edgar Degas invited her to exhibit with the Impressionists. His influence is reflected in the unusual sage-green background, the attention to contrasting complementary colors, and the figure's daring asymmetrical pose and indifference to the viewer. Louisine Elder (later Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer), a young American Cassatt met in Paris in 1874, acquired this self-portrait from the artist by 1879 and lent it to the thirteenth annual exhibition of the American Watercolor Society in New York in February 1880.