Mother Wearing a Sunflower on her Dress, c. 1905–07

View all works from this time period.

Works mentioned in this section:
Portrait of Madame O. de S. and Her Children
Smiling Sara in a Hat Trimmed with a Pansy
Mother Looking Down, Embracing Both of Her Children
Children Playing with a Cat
Mother Nursing Her Baby
Mother Jeanne Nursing Her Child (Profile Left) (No. 4)
Françoise Holding a Little Dog
Bust of Françoise Looking Forward
Mother Wearing a Sunflower on Her Dress
Baby John Asleep, Sucking His Thumb

More Monumental Compositions

After 1905, when she completed two tondo murals originally intended for the Harrisburg Statehouse (she refused to give them over because of a graft scandal associated with the project), Cassatt began working in oils more frequently and using fuller bodied female models and more elaborate settings.

Her facture at this time also became heavier and less spontaneous, and her palette relied upon light blues, green, and pinks.

Frustrated with Durand-Ruel because they were marketing her work primarily in the U.S., Cassatt broke her exclusive contract with the firm and began to sell through Vollard.

Nonetheless, she still sold works to Durand-Ruel, who preferred her highly finished oils and pastels; Vollard was successful in selling many of her preparatory sketches, as well as the “girl with dog” pastels, mainly to French clients.

In these years, Cassatt also continued to take on portrait commissions, depicting the de Sailly family in 1907 (see Portrait of Madame O. de S. and Her Children), the Kelekians in 1908, and her own nephews in 1910.

In 1906–07, she created another series of blond girls in large hats with dogs, producing her only oils of this type, including the only “girl with dog” picture purchased by Durand-Ruel: the oil Smiling Sara in a Hat Trimmed with a Pansy.

Many of Cassatt’s works from 1907–08 are rather stolid, like Mother Looking Down, Embracing Both of Her Children.

Children Playing with a Cat was sent by Durand-Ruel to more than 30 exhibitions in the U.S. and proved to be a favorite with critics, though it was not purchased until sometime after 1947.

In this period, Cassatt returned to the subject of breastfeeding, doing variants in oil (Mother Nursing Her Baby) and pastel (Mother Jeanne Nursing Her Child [Profile Left] [No. 4]).

From late 1908 to 1909, she produced a final series of girls with hats and dogs, this time using an older, dark-haired girl identified by Breeskin as Françoise.

Though the oils of this type can often be somewhat labored (see Françoise Holding a Little Dog), some of the pastels retain a luminosity and freshness of drawing, such as Bust of Françoise Looking Forward.

The mirror reemerged as a device in a group of paintings (and also in etchings) done in late 1909 to early 1910, as in Mother Wearing a Sunflower on Her Dress.

Cassatt retained a nimble touch in related pastels, such as the light-filled Baby John Asleep, Sucking His Thumb.

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