The Family, ca. 1892
Oil on canvas
Though Mary Cassatt's subjects – mothers and children -- were traditional for women artists of the day, she refashioned them to include a new degree of pictorial and psychological complexity. The Family reads at first as a conventional depiction of maternity, tied to traditional paintings of the Madonna and Christ Child. Yet the off-center arrangement, the cropping of figures and trees at the edges fo the canvas, and the overall linear emphasis are attributes Cassatt adapted from Japanese prints, then considered the hallmarks of modernity.
In Paris, Cassatt cast her lot with the French Impressionists. She exhibited her paintings in their exhibitions and was the only American to be included in their ranks.