660 (Breeskin 600)
Mother in Striped Head Scarf Embraced by Her Baby
Alternate title(s): Mère et enfant; Mère et enfants [sic]; Mother and Child; Mother in a Striped Head Scarf Embraced by Her Baby
c. 1913
Pastel on paper
32 x 25 5/8 in. (81.28 x 65.09 cm)
Inscribed lower right: Mary Cassatt
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer

provenance / ownership history
From the artist; placed on deposit with Durand-Ruel, Paris, c. November 1913 (Paris deposit #11686, Paris photo #7767)
to Louisine (Mrs. Henry O.) Havemeyer, New York, 1915
to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1929, by bequest

exhibition history
1914 Durand-Ruel Paris: #26, as Mère et enfant
1915 Knoedler NY: #54, as Mère et enfant
1930 Met Museum NY: #138, as Mother and Child
1993 Met Museum NY: no #, as Mother and Child

published references
Britton 1915: p. 1, as Mère et enfant
Havemeyer, L. 1915: p. 8, as "peasant with her kerchief"
NY Sun 1915b: p. 3, as "peasant with a white kerchief on her head"
Havemeyer, L. 1927: p. 378, as "peasant with her 'kerchief'"
Arts & Decoration 1930: p. 55, as Mother and Child
Met Museum NY 1931: p. 175, as Mother and Child
NY Times 1931: p. 18, if this is the work listed as "Mother and Child . . . 4,000"
Mathews 1984: letters: MC to Louisine Havemeyer, December 4 [1913], p. 311, as one of "seven pastels to town . . . I kept one only"; MC to Louisine Havemeyer, March 22, 1920, p. 332, as "the pastel you bought"
Weitzenhoffer 1986: p. 225, ill.; p. 255, as Mother in a Striped Head Scarf Embraced by Her Baby
Mathews 1987: p. 146; p. 147, ill.; p. 149, as Mother and Child
Bolger 1989: p. 58; p. 59, ill.; p. 153, ill., as Mother and Child
Effeny 1991: p. 126, as Mother and Child
Rabinow 1993: p. 93, ill.; p. 94nn13,27, as Mère et enfants [sic]; p. 95, as "54"
Stein 1993: p. 268, ill., as Mother and Child
Wold 1993: p. 301, ill.; p. 302, as Mother and Child
Mathews 1994: p. 299; p. 301, ill., as Mother and Child
Ivinski 1997: p. 10, ill.; pp. 11, 13n11, as Mother and Child
Pollock 1998: p. 210, as "pastel of a woman in a kerchief" and ill. in installation photograph of 1915 Knoedler NY exhibition
Dawson 2004: p. 52, as Mother and Child


Although Louisine Havemeyer cited Mother in a Striped Head Scarf Embraced by Her Baby in a 1915 lecture as one of the works Cassatt made "last winter especially for this exhibition" (M. Knoedler & Co.'s Loan Exhibition of Masterpieces by Old and Modern Masters, which opened on April 6, 1915), the pastel was more likely completed by the end of 1913, before Havemeyer and Cassatt conceived the idea for the show, which they organized to benefit the women's suffrage movement.[1]

Cassatt, in a letter written to Louisine Havemeyer on December 4, 1913, mentioned a group of recently completed works, "I brought seven pastels to town [to Galeries Durand-Ruel, Paris], four were large; a nude boy and his Mother. They were in many respects the best I have done, more freely handled & more brilliant in color. I kept one only. It is one of the best & very important I felt I ought to keep something of mine for my family."[2] Durand-Ruel's records demonstrate that Cassatt had brought seven pastels to the gallery at this time. Six of these works were purchased by Durand-Ruel on November 5, 1913: Mother and Son on a Chaise Longue, Daughter Leaning over Them, Young Girl with Long Brown Hair in a Rose-red Dress, The Crochet Lesson, Nude Baby in Mother's Lap Resting Her Right Arm on the Back of a Chair, Dark-haired Baby Smiling Up at Her Mother, and Half-length Figure of a Nude Young Woman.[3] These pictures were all assigned Durand-Ruel photograph numbers and stock numbers. The seventh picture Cassatt brought to Durand-Ruel that day—Mother in a Striped Head Scarf Embraced by Her Baby—was photographed and assigned a photograph number, but it was given a deposit rather than a stock number, signifying that it continued to belong to the artist, the only picture from the group of seven that she did not sell to Durand-Ruel.

By late February 1914, Cassatt had changed her mind about keeping Mother in a Striped Head Scarf Embraced by Her Baby for her family, writing to Havemeyer about the 1915 suffrage exhibition and the pastel, "You are working hard and deserve success. As to my pictures, I would like to know M. Colemans opinion about the pastel of the boy standing if you want it after that I will say no, but just be sure it is better or as good as what you have got. Wait until after the exhibition & see then what you think."[4] On April 13, 1915, Havemeyer purchased the pastel. In 1920, Cassatt wrote to Havemeyer of Durand-Ruel's reaction on those rare occasions when she bypassed the gallery in making sales, as she did when selling Mother in a Striped Head Scarf Embraced by Her Baby directly to Havemeyer in 1914, "Oh! how they behaved about the pastel you bought."[5]


[1] Louisine Havemeyer, "Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer's Remarks on Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt," speech read at M. Knoedler & Co., New York, April 6, 1915, n.p. According to Rebecca A. Rabinow, Cassatt and Havemeyer first began to discuss the idea for the exhibition in the spring of 1914. See Rabinow's "The Suffrage Exhibition of 1915," in Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen et al., Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection, exh. cat. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993), p. 89.

[2] MC to Louisine Havemeyer, Villa Angeletto, Grasse, France, December 4, 1913, Cassatt and Her Circle: Selected Letters, ed. Nancy Mowll Mathews (New York: Abbeville Press, 1984), p. 311.

[3] Although these seven pictures featured the same three figures—a woman, a girl, and a young boy—Adelyn Dohme Breeskin gave two of them titles that suggest the young boy was a girl: Nude Baby in Mother's Lap Resting Her Right Arm on the Back of a Chair and Dark-haired Baby Smiling Up at Her Mother.

[4] MC to Louisine Havemeyer, Villa Angeletto, Grasse, France, February 28, [1915], in Breeskin archive, Mary Cassatt Catalogue Raisonné Committee, Adelson Galleries, New York, N.Y. The "M. Coleman" discussed in this passage has not been identified.

[5] MC to Louisine Havemeyer, Villa Angeletto, Grasse, France, March 22, 1920, Mathews 1984, p. 332.

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