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The Child's Bath, 1893

Mary Cassatt

The Art Institute of Chicago, Robert A. Waller Fund

In this work, Mary Cassatt addressed the theme of women and children, for which she is best known, while also experimenting with elements derived from Japanese art. In 1890, after viewing a large exhibition of Japanese prints at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, she produced a series of prints influenced by their aesthetics. The Child’s Bath is a culmination of these sensibilities, which emphasize decorative pattern and a flattened picture plane. Moreover, the subject mirrors that of many Japanese prints, which capture intimate scenes of everyday life. In Cassatt’s painting, the mother’s encircling arms and gentle touch convey an overall feeling of protection and tenderness.