Breakfast in Bed (1897)
Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)
oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 29 in.
Born in Pennsylvania, Mary Cassatt attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before going to Europe for further study. In 1873, she settled in Paris where she was to remain the rest of her life.
A close friend of Edgar Degas, Cassatt became part of the French avant garde and embraced the tenets of Impressionism. With its broken brush strokes and bright colors, Breakfast in Bed
reflects the artist's aesthetic ties.
The subject of a woman and child is a recurring theme in her work and this particular example is an especially telling treatment of the subject. With the child centrally placed in an upright pose, Cassatt depicts a quiet but charged moment in which a mother embraces her daughter, whose attention is elsewhere. Contrasting the mother's protective action and gaze with her offspring's curiosity with the world beyond her reach, Cassatt evokes the subtle tensions implicit in the relationship of parent to child.