National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Coiffure Mary Cassatt (artist)
American, 1844 - 1926
The Coiffure, 1890-1891
drypoint and aquatint on laid paper
plate: 36.5 x 26.7 cm (14 3/8 x 10 1/2 in.) sheet: 43.2 x 30.7 cm (17 x 12 1/16 in.)
Mathews and Shapiro 1989, no. 14, State v/v
Chester Dale Collection
1963.10.257
Not on View
From the Tour: Mary Cassatt — Selected Color Prints
Object 11 of 12

In The Coiffure, Mary Cassatt depicts a young woman in a private moment, as she pins up her hair for the day. This print is part of a series of ten color prints that Cassatt exhibited at Durand Ruel's gallery in Paris in 1891. Earlier, Cassatt had seen an exhibition of Japanese woodblock prints at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and became entranced by their everyday themes and spare beauty.

The Coiffure is one of two nude studies in Cassatt's color series. Although she did not often represent the nude, Cassatt's simple handling of line and form confirms her skill in drawing the human figure. The straight lines of the mirror and wall and the chair's vertical stripes contrast with the graceful curves of the woman's body. The rose and peach color scheme enhances her sinuous beauty by highlighting her delicate skin tone. Cassatt also emphasizes the nape of the woman's neck, perhaps in reference to a traditional Japanese sign of beauty.

Cassatt used the theme of The Coiffure in a number of her other works, for example, her painting, Girl Arranging Her Hair, portrays a red-haired model who resembles this one in The Coiffure.

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