Mary Cassatt 1844-1926
Breakfast in Bed ca. 1894
Gift of the Virginia Steele Scott Foundation
Mary Cassatt became one of the first American women to achieve international recognition as an artist. Born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, she spent most of her life in France. There she became part of a group of artists lnown as the Impressionists , who pioneered the technique of using small brush strokes of unmixed color to capture the effects of light. They also tooks elements of daily life as their subject, rather than historical or mythological scenes.
Beginning in the 1880s, Cassatt depicted the subject which absorbed her for the rest of her career: the mother and child. She often dealt with tension between a mother's focused attention on a chaild and a child's desire to explore the world. In Breakfast in Bed the mother gazes at the child wrapped in her arms, while the child gazes out in to the room. By focusing closely on the figures, Cassatt draws the viewer into the intimate scene.