186 (Breeskin 238)
The Banjo Lesson
Alternate title(s): Banjo Lesson; Deux jeunes femmes dont l'une joue du banjo; La leçon de banjo; The Banjo
c. 1892--93
Pastel on paper
28 x 22 1/2 in. (71.12 x 57.15 cm)
Inscribed lower right: Mary Cassatt
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Purchase, The Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 58.43

provenance / ownership history
From the artist
to Ambroise Vollard, Paris
Arthur Tooth & Sons, New York, by 1924
Durand-Ruel, New York, c. April 1927 (N.Y. stock #4969, N.Y. photo #1346)
Sarah Choate (Mrs. Joshua Montgomery) Sears
to her daughter Helen Sears (Mrs. J. D. Cameron) Bradley, Southboro, Massachusetts
to Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 1956
to Bernice (Mrs. Edgar) Garbisch, New York, 1956; placed on consignment with M. Knoedler & Co., New York, January 28, 1958 (consignment #WCA 2102)
to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia (through M. Knoedler & Co., New York), January 15, 1959

exhibition history
1928 Carnegie Institute: #32, as The Banjo
1962 Baltimore Museum: #115, as The Banjo Lesson, lent by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
1965 Univ NM: #3, ill., as The Banjo Lesson, lent by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
1966b Knoedler NY: #26, ill., as The Banjo Lesson
1978 Nat Collection DC: #17, ill., as The Banjo Lesson, lent by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
1989 National Gallery DC: #16-1, as The Banjo Lesson
1998--99 Chicago AIC: #75, ill., as The Banjo Lesson, lent by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Chicago only)

published references
Edouard-Joseph 1930: p. 250, as Deux jeunes femmes dont l'une joue du banjo
Valerio 1930: pl. 15, ill., as La leçon de banjo
Art Quarterly 1958b: p. 430, as The Banjo Lesson
Chronique des arts 1960: p. 42, ill., as La leçon de banjo
Yeh 1976: p. 361, as The Banjo Lesson
Wright, M.M. 1978: p. 24, ill., as The Banjo Lesson
Roudebush 1979: p. 76, ill., as The Banjo Lesson
Getlein 1980: p. 106, ill., as The Banjo Lesson
Love 1980: pl. 12, ill.; p. 104, as Banjo Lesson
Pollock 1980: p. 65, as Banjo Lesson
Buettner 1986: p. 17, as The Banjo Lesson
Mathews 1987: pp. 91--92; p. 93, ill., as The Banjo Lesson
Mathews and Shapiro 1989: pp. 50, 164; p. 167, ill., as The Banjo Lesson
Gerdts 1992: p. 44, ill., as The Banjo Lesson
Constantino 1995: p. 8, as The Banjo Lesson
Gruitrooy 1996: p. 54, as The Banjo Lesson; p. 56, as one of two "related pastels"
Curry 1997: p. 61, ill., as The Banjo Lesson
Pollock 1998: p. 30; p. 31, ill., as The Banjo Lesson; p. 53, as "a related pastel"
Ivinski 2004c: p. 144; p. 144, ill.; pp. 146, 149, 150, as The Banjo Lesson
Morelon 2004: p. 98, as "deux pastels . . . l'un à Richmond"
Webster 2004: p. 92; p. 93, ill., as The Banjo Lesson
Burns 2005: pp. 81, as "[fig.] 73" and The Banjo Lesson; p. 82; p. 83, ill., as The Banjo Lesson
Mazow 2005: p. 10, as "[fig.] 73"

commentary

The Banjo Lesson is most likely the work purchased by Ambroise Vollard from the artist in 1904 under the title Femme à la guitare avec enfant.

Arthur Tooth & Sons, a London art gallery founded in 1842, opened their New York branch early in the twentieth century and closed it in 1924.

Sarah Choate Sears (1858–1935) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Like her friends Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent, Sears was an artist. In 1877, she married Joshua Montgomery Sears, who at one point is said to have been the second-largest individual real estate owner and the largest taxpayer in Boston.[1] Mrs. Sears bore two children and remained highly active in the arts, continuing to work in watercolor and pastel. Eventually she branched out into avant-garde photography, becoming involved with Alfred Stieglitz's Photo-secession group.

Sears's daughter Helen (1889–1966) is the subject of Cassatt's 1907 Portrait of Helen Sears. Helen married James Donald Cameron Bradley in 1913, settling in Southboro, Massachusetts, near Boston.

Bernice Chrysler Garbisch (1907–1979), daughter of automobile mogul Walter P. Chrysler, married Edgar William Garbisch (1899–1979), a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. During the 1940s and 1950s, Colonel and Mrs. Garbisch amassed most of their enormous collection of American naïve paintings, buying some works by the French Impressionists as well.

Counterproofs after this work exist.

PAI

[1] Daniel P. Toomey, Massachusetts of Today: A Memorial of the State, Historical and Biographical, Issued for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago (Boston: Columbia Publishing, 1892), p. 285.

The Banjo Lesson, 1894, pastel counterproof on Japan paper, 28 1/4 x 23 in. (72 x 58.3 cm). (Photograph provided by Adelson Galleries, New York, N.Y.) [view all counterproofs]
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keywords:
 banjo
 woman
 girl
 mother
 daughter
 sister
 music
 blue
 dress
 white
 smock
 looking right
 playing
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