National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Afternoon Tea Party Mary Cassatt (artist)
American, 1844 - 1926
Afternoon Tea Party, 1890-1891
drypoint, aquatint, and gold paint on wove paper
plate: 34.8 x 26.4 cm (13 11/16 x 10 3/8 in.) sheet: 42.5 x 31.1 cm (16 3/4 x 12 1/4 in.)
Mathews and Shapiro 1989, no. 13, State v/v
Chester Dale Collection
Not on View
From the Tour: Mary Cassatt — Selected Color Prints
Object 10 of 12

Afternoon Tea Party is part of a series of ten color prints in which Mary Cassatt explores the domestic activities and roles of women in the nineteenth century. In this scene, a young woman serves tea and cakes to a visitor. Women typically called on one another in the afternoons, and serving tea was a ritual that often included discussion and relaxation.

The women in Afternoon Tea Party do not seem entirely engaged with one another. While the hostess bends forward expectantly to offer her guest a teacake, the visitor seems to accept only reluctantly. Her arms remain close to her body, and her eyes look down at the plate rather than at the open face of her hostess. The fact that she still wears both her coat and hat suggests that she will not stay long. Perhaps this represents a duty visit rather than a friendly chat over tea.

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