The Crochet Lesson, c. 1913

View all works from this time period

Works mentioned in this section:
Mother in Striped Head Scarf Embraced by Her Baby
Mother and Son on a Chaise Longue, Daughter Leaning over Them
Mother About to Wash Her Sleepy Child
Mother in a Large Hat Holding Her Nude Baby Seen in Back View
Mother Holding Her Nude Baby Whose Left Hand Rests on the Mother's Chest

Late Works

1910 was, for Cassatt, a highly successful year during which she received great press and doubled her sales income. At this moment, though, public interest in her work began to shift away from serious art journals and into ladies’ magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal.

At the end of 1910, she traveled through Europe, Constantinople, and Egypt with her brother Gardner and family; the trip overwhelmed her, between family tensions, the massive and what she felt was masculine character of Egyptian art, and her brother’s illness and death soon after the family returned to France.

As a result, Cassatt suffered from a period of physical and emotional exhaustion and did not create any art from late 1910 until the summer of 1913.

Her final phase of creativity includes two significant series: a group of pastels finished in late 1913 and a number of works made to be shown in a 1915 Knoedler exhibition that Cassatt helped to organize, held to benefit woman suffrage.

After 1915, she was no longer able to work due to cataracts and poor health.

While pastels like Mother in Striped Head Scarf Embraced by Her Baby show some evidence of Cassatt’s deteriorating eyesight and drawing skills, Cassatt wrote that the 1913 pictures were “in many aspects the best I have done, more freely handled & more brilliant in color.”

Though she claimed to disdain modern artists and movements including Matisse and Expressionism, Cassatt developed a technique in her late years that is consistent with certain elements of these avant-garde trends.

The most ambitious of her late works, Mother and Son on a Chaise Longue, Daughter Leaning over Them, not only looks back to an early influence, Parmigianino, for its figural types and arrangement, but also revisits her first important mother and child picture, Mother About to Wash Her Sleepy Child, reversing that painting’s composition.

Cassatt’s final works, completed in 1914 and 1915, rely less upon Old Master precedent than do the 1913 pictures.

While the paintings of this period, such as Mother in a Large Hat Holding Her Nude Baby Seen in Back View, demonstrate that Cassatt could no longer manipulate the paintbrush with the same facility as in her earlier career, she remained somewhat more adept with the expressionistic stroke of her pastels.

In two works that may represent her final pictures, including Mother Holding Her Nude Baby Whose Left Hand Rests on the Mother’s Chest, her handling and palette are less strident than in the other works of 1913–15; the resulting effect, somewhat soft and abstract, in combination with the bright coloration, is not unappealing.

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