National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Children Playing on the Beach Mary Cassatt (artist)
American, 1844 - 1926
Children Playing on the Beach, 1884
oil on canvas
overall: 97.4 x 74.2 cm (38 3/8 x 29 3/16 in.) framed: 117.5 x 94 x 6.4 cm (46 1/4 x 37 x 2 1/2 in.)
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection
Not on View
From the Tour: Mary Cassatt — Selected Paintings
Object 4 of 10

Children Playing on a Beach demonstrates Mary Cassatt's skill at capturing the natural attitudes of children. The intent expression on one child's face, the lowered angles of their heads, and the set of their shoulders suggest complete concentration on their activities. Especially appealing is the awkward way in which the toddler on the left grips the long handle of her shovel while holding the rim of the bucket with her other pudgy hand.

Cassatt's interest in structure and strong sense of patterning comes through clearly in this painting. Her careful brushstrokes follow the contours of the girls' arms, legs, and heads, creating the solid areas of color typical of her work after 1883. To keep the center of attention on the little girls, Cassatt treated the seascape background more loosely; the boats on the ocean melt into a haze of natural light. She emphasized surface pattern by repeating the accents of dark dresses under crisp white pinafores.

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Exhibition History

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