168 (Breeskin 195)
The Child's Caress
Alternate title(s): Child's Caress; La caresse maternelle; Mère et enfant; Mother and Child; Mother and Child (The Child's Caress); Woman and Child
c. 1890--91
Oil on canvas
25 1/2 x 19 3/4 in. (64.77 x 50.17 cm)
Inscribed upper right: Mary Cassatt
Honolulu Academy of Arts, Gift of Friends of Wilhelmina Tenney, given as a memorial to her, 1953 (1845.1)

provenance / ownership history
Durand-Ruel, Paris, between March 6 and April 1, 1891 (Paris stock #935, Paris photo #327), likely from the artist
probably to Durand-Ruel, New York
to Sir William van Horne, Montreal, 1892, from Durand-Ruel, Paris or New York (more likely New York)
consigned by Van Horne's heirs to Parke-Bernet, New York, January 24, 1946, #17, ill., as Mother and Child
to Mr. and Mrs. George Gard De Sylva
to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1946
Dalzell Hatfield Galleries, Los Angeles
to the Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii, 1953

exhibition history
1891 Durand-Ruel Paris: #4, as Mère et enfant
1895 Art Montreal: #7, as Mother and Child, lent by Sir William C. van Horne, K.C.M.G.
1915 Knoedler NY: #59, as Mother and Child
1933 Montreal Art Association: #149, as Mother and Child
1950 LACMA: #1, ill., as La caresse maternelle
1983 Detroit Institute: #33, ill., as The Child's Caress
1989 National Gallery DC: #5-1, as The Child's Caress
2000 Tobu Museum of Art: #64, ill., as The Child's Caress

published references
Art moderne 1891: p. 359 in Leard, as "une mère et son enfant"
Dalligny 1891: p. 335 in Leard, as "peinture"
Fénéon 1891: p. 1728; p. 337 in Leard, as "les deux peintures"
Lecomte 1891: p. 353 in Leard, as "deux tableaux"
Matin 1891: p. 324 in Leard, as "quatre toiles"
Montreal Daily Witness 1895: ill.
Cary 1905: p. 4, as "owned by Sir William C. van Horne"
Chicago Daily Tribune 1907: p. D8, as Mother and Child
Cary 1909: p. 29, as "owned by Sir William C. van Horne"
NY Times Magazine 1915c: p. SM21, as Woman and Child
Los Angeles Times 1946: p. C1, as "paintings by Mary Cassatt"
Brooklyn Museum 1953: pl. 54, ill., as Mother and Child
Art Quarterly 1954: p. 188, ill., as La caresse maternelle
JAMA 1972: cover, ill.; p. 1173, ill., as Maternal Caress
Young 1979: p. 148, ill., as The Child's Caress
Huntington et al 1983: pp. 36, 93--94; p. 94, ill.; color pl. 10, ill., as The Child's Caress
Burns 1984: p. 76, as The Child's Caress
Mathews 1984: letter: MC to Sara Hallowell, [July 23?, 1892], p. 231, as "one of my pictures in Montréal"
Brooke 1989: p. 145, ill., as Mother and Child (The Child's Caress)
Mathews and Shapiro 1989: p. 103, ill., as The Child's Caress
Saville 1990: p. 224, ill., as The Child's Caress
Rabinow 1993: p. 90, ill., as "Van Horne's Cassatt"
Constantino 1995: p. 69, ill., as The Child's Caress
Gruitrooy 1996: p. 62, ill.; pp. 63--64, as The Child's Caress
Pollock 1998: p. 200, as Child's Caress; p. 210, ill. in installation photograph of 1915 Knoedler NY exhibition
Ivinski 2004b: p. 221, as The Child's Caress


Sir William van Horne (1843–1915) is presumably the collector mentioned in a letter written by Cassatt to Sara Hallowell [July 23?, 1892], "I saw M. Ch. Durand-Ruel. . . . He told me that he had just sold one of my pictures in Montréal, the purchaser saw the photograph."[1] Because Charles Durand-Ruel was running the New York branch of the gallery in 1892, it seems most likely that Van Horne purchased the work from New York rather than Paris.

The Illinois-born Van Horne, who began his career in the telegraph office of the Illinois Central Railroad, managed construction for the Canadian Pacific Railroad and eventually was named its president. One of the most important early collectors of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in Canada, Van Horne was also an amateur artist and was preparing watercolor illustrations for a catalogue of his Japanese pottery collection when he died.

A subsequent owner, George Gard De Sylva (1895–1950), better known as B. G. DeSylva or Buddy G. DeSylva, was a prolific Broadway and Hollywood composer, writer, and film producer whose songs continue to be employed on soundtracks. De Sylva and his wife gave their collection of Impressionist and modern art to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1946. The Child's Caress, the only work by an American in their collection, was deaccessioned by the museum by 1953, when it was donated by friends of Wilhelmina Tenney to the Honolulu Academy of Arts.


[1] MC to Sara Hallowell, Bachivillers, [July 23?, 1892], in Cassatt and Her Circle: Selected Letters, ed. Nancy Mowll Mathews (New York: Abbeville Press, 1984), p. 231.

The Caress, c. 1891, drypoint, 7 3/4 x 5 3/4 in. (26 x 19 cm). (Photograph provided by the Breeskin archive, Mary Cassatt Catalogue Raisonné Committee, Adelson Galleries, New York, N.Y.)

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