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Seattle Art Museum

Cassatt "The Family"

Cassatt "The Family"

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From: Seattle Art Museum
Limited Edition: 2
Exhibition: Inspiring Impressionism: The Impressionists and the Art of the Past
Material: Printed 2-ply vinyl
Dimensions: 28" x 96" (71cm x 243cm)

Hanging Hardware Included


Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt is known for her touching portraits of women and children. She took the subject of motherhood and showed it in all its myriad complexity. With a simple image of a woman holding a baby, she could evoke the tenderness, difficulty, joys, and sorrows of motherhood. 2 banners from the Seattle Art Museum feature her 1893 work "The Family" showing a mother in a comfortable, relaxed moment with her two children.


The exhibition Inspiring Impressionism: The Impressionists and the Art of the Past brought together the works of Old Masters and Impressionists to explore how the earlier works influenced those of the Impressionists. Works by 17th-century European painters were juxtaposed with later Impressionist works that they influenced. This unique display made the connections and inspirations clearly evident.

One artist who often drew inspiration from earlier works was Mary Cassatt. The hallmark of her work is her paintings of women and children in the comfortable, casual milieu of family life. She was inspired by the compositions of Rennaissance images of the Madonna and child, and also the casual poses seen in the work of artists like Jean-Honoré Fragonard. This banner features a detail of her 1893 work The Family. The central image is the mother, the center of the family. She sits with her two children, a daughter who holds a flower out to her baby sibling. The mother is the glue holding this family cluster together, and she is both aware and distracted by this fact. She gazes off to the side, fully embracing her children while taking in stride the powerful experience of motherhood. The foreground composition of the three figures recalls the pyramidal structure of Renaissance Madonna and child paintings.

The other side of the banner is yellow with simple black text that reads “Inspiring Impressionism”.


These banners were displayed around Seattle from June 19 through September 21, 2008 to promote the exhibition Inspiring Impressionism: The Impressionists and the Art of the Past at the Seattle Art Museum. The exhibition was also seen at the High Museum of Art and the Denver Art Museum.


About the Artist

Learn more about Mary Cassatt 

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