National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Loge Mary Cassatt (artist)
American, 1844 - 1926
The Loge, c. 1878-1880
oil on canvas
overall: 79.8 x 63.8 cm (31 7/16 x 25 1/8 in.) framed: 111.1 x 95.3 cm (43 3/4 x 37 1/2 in.)
Chester Dale Collection
1963.10.96
On View
From the Tour: Mary Cassatt, Auguste Renoir
Object 1 of 7

A number of artists, including Degas, Renoir, and Cassatt, depicted women at the theater. While Degas took many of his subjects from the stage and orchestra pit, Cassatt and Renoir focused on the audience. Reflected behind these two young women are rings of theater seats and a massive chandelier; clearly, they are sitting in luxurious boxes with mirrored walls. Like Cassatt herself, they belong to wealthy, proper families. Their careful posture is reserved, almost stiff with decorum. It would have distinguished them, despite their bare shoulders, from some other women in the audience who were coquettes brought to the opera by their lovers.

Not all the display at the theater occurred on stage, and the young women are equally on view, sitting forward to be seen. But the social code prohibits proper, unmarried young women from looking at others. The woman holding the fan is probably Mary Ellison, a friend of the artist visiting from Philadelphia. Even from behind this screen her gaze is cast modestly down. The other woman, perhaps the daughter of poet Stephane Mallarmé, is more forthright than her companion. The two seem to be mirror reflections of each other; while the young Philadelphian hides shyly, her friend is poised with self-confidence to receive the attention of other theater patrons.

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