Mary Cassatt (artist)|
American, 1844 - 1926
In the Omnibus, 1890-1891
drypoint and aquatint on laid paper
plate: 36.5 x 26.6 cm (14 3/8 x 10 1/2 in.) sheet: 43 x 29.8 cm (16 15/16 x 11 3/4 in.)
Mathews and Shapiro 1989, no. 7, State vii/vii
Chester Dale Collection
Not on View
Object 4 of 12
Mary Cassatt often depicts mothers and children, as in In the Omnibus. This print, however, departs from the usual interior scene, since the artist has chosen to place her subjects on a public bus.
The exterior setting of In the Omnibus suggests a great deal about nineteenth-century rules of conduct for women. Middle- and upper-class society dictated that respectable women did not venture out alone in public; a male or female chaperone was considered a necessity, as in this scene.
Cassatt has also marked the social status of the women by their clothing, in particular, their hats. The woman on the left wears an elaborately decorated and sculpted hat that clearly separates her from the woman on the right, who wears a simple cap. The woman holding the baby is presumably the nanny; while her attention is focused on the baby, the baby's mother turns her gaze through an unseen window to events happening outside the bus. Women who could afford to do so hired nannies to assist in raising their children. In turn, they enjoyed greater freedom to pursue other interests, a fact which is perhaps illustrated by the mother's diverted gaze.
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