Mary Cassatt
c. 1890

An original hand-signed Mary Cassatt Drypoint print.

c. 1890

Original drypoint printed in dark umber ink on laid paper bearing the “VANDERLEY” watermark

Hand-signed in pencil in the margin below the image lower right Mary Cassatt.

A superb impression of Breeskin’s fifth and final state of this extremely rare etching, printed after the shading was added to the table top and the wide moulding was added to its edge, showing touches of burr and a delicate, warm plate tone throughout, from the edition of only 25 (of which 12 were already represented in museum collections internationally in 1979).  One of the twelve drypoint subjects, each published in an edition of 25, exhibited in March, 1890, in the Exposition des Peintres-Graveurs at the Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, and again in November-December, 1893, in the large, comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s paintings, pastels, drawings, and prints, also at the Galerie Durand-Ruel. 

Catalog: Breeskin 133 v/v

7 1/8 x 6 1/16 inches

Sheet Size: 13 x 8 inches

Cassatt was an artist who found enormous inspiration in the medium of print, but she was never a professional printmaker.  As a result she saw her prints, like Degas and Pissarro, almost as individual objects, each proof a complete work, and the editions, if any, very restricted and not formalized.  In drypoint she particularly enjoyed the quality of light which was created by the line – the way the ink blurred over the line and moved from a linear to a tonal effect.  Her handling of the actual lines of shading and contour in the drypoints are of a wonderful sensitivity.

Cassatt’s involvement in Impressionism was not through landscape but through a modern realism.  Her interpretation of light was concentrated on the way it affects the visual appearance of the figure.  In her themes she found a totally personal and unique artistic language.  Her creations are not idealized but depict real women seen in real everyday situations, expressed with a tenderness, sympathy and understanding which has untold depth of insight.  Drawn direct from life the drypoints and etchings are amongst the great masterworks of Impressionist graphic art.

This fine drypoint is one of twelve works in this medium that were exhibited at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris in 1890 in the Exposition des Peintres-Graveurs.  The group was exhibited again in 1893 at Durand-Ruel along with examples of Mary Cassatt’s paintings, pastels and drawings, as well as prints in other media.  In addition to the twelve drypoints was a series of fourteen fine color prints, thirty-eight other etchings and one lithograph.  This retrospective was one of the major exhibitions of the artist’s career.  In her catalogue raisonné of the artist’s graphic work, Adelyn Breeskin comments on the prints shown in this exhibition as follows: “This particular group of prints was the culmination of all her earlier years of study.  They are mature graphic works of the first quality, brilliantly executed and conceived, with comprehensive understanding of the basic elements of style, taste, and economy of means.  They have a freedom and concentration that place them far above the work of the typical peintre-graveur of her time . . .”