Antoinette’s Caress, ca. 1906
Pastel on paper
74 x 61.6 cm (29 1/8 x 24 3/16 inches)
Gift of Mrs. Houghton P. Metcalf, Sr. 82.115
(October 21, 2016 – June 11, 2017)
This drawing depicts a model named Antoinette—whom Cassatt drew frequently around 1900—with her son. The vivid tones used to sketch the pair contrast sharply with the neutral background and contribute a sense of intimacy and warmth.
Cassatt favored pastel for its brightness and texture. Like Edgar Degas, she “fixed” layers of pastel to the surface of a sheet of paper, securing the loose material in place so that she could apply more pastel on top of it. This practice is seen throughout this drawing, especially in the layering of unexpected colors such as green and orange in the child’s skin.(August 19, 2005 – January 22, 2006)
Degas and Cassatt had met by 1877 (if not sooner), when he invited her to exhibit in the fourth Impressionist exhibition, held in 1879. In 1879-80, they worked together in Degas’s studio, where he introduced her to a variety of innovative print techniques. Many of these were employed in works she showed at the fifth Impressionist exhibition in 1880. At the same time, Degas made prints of Cassatt at the Louvre and a major pastel of her. Cassatt’s luminous use of pastel, particularly the diagonal strokes of contrasting warm and cool colors seen here, also owed a debt to Degas. The two held great admiration for each other ’s work throughout their lives. Cassatt was instrumental in making Degas’s work known among American collectors, and Degas acquired nearly 100 of her prints, a painting, and several pastels.
A Handbook of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design
Edited ByWoodward, Carla M., and Franklin W. Robinson, eds.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1988
TypeMonographs and Collections
Adelyn Dohme Breeskin, Mary Cassatt: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oils, Pastels, Watercolors, and Drawings. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1970.