Degas/Cassatt

May 11 – October 5, 2014

West Building, Main Floor

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    Mary Cassatt, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, 1878, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

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    Edgar Degas, Portrait after a Costume Ball (Portrait of Mme Dietz-Monnin), 1879, distemper with metallic paint and pastel on canvas, The Art Institute of Chicago, Joseph Winterbotham Collection. Photography © The Art Institute of Chicago

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    Mary Cassatt, At the Theater, 1878/1879, pastel and gouache with metallic paint, Collection of Ann and Gordon Getty

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    Edgar Degas, Fan Mount: Ballet Girls, 1879, watercolor, silver, and gold on silk, Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, H.O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H.O. Havemeyer. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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    Mary Cassatt, Young Woman in Black (Portrait of Madame J), 1883, oil on canvas, Collection of the Maryland State Archives

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    Edgar Degas, Actresses in Their Dressing Rooms, c. 1879/1880, etching and aquatint, National Gallery of Art, Rosenwald Collection

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    Mary Cassatt, The Loge, c. 1878–1880, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Chester Dale Collection

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    Mary Cassatt, The Loge (recto), 1879–1880, graphite, National Gallery of Art, Chester Dale Collection

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    Mary Cassatt, Two Young Ladies Seated in a Loge, Facing Right, 1879–1880, softground etching and aquatint, Marc Rosen Fine Art, New York, and Adelson Galleries, New York

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    Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt at the Louvre, c. 1879, pastel, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Henry P. McIlhenny Collection in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 1986. The Philadelphia Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY

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    Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt at the Louvre: The Etruscan Gallery, 1879–1880, softground etching, drypoint, aquatint, and etching retouched with red chalk, The Art Institute of Chicago, Albert Roullier Memorial Collection. Photography © The Art Institute of Chicago

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    Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt at the Louvre: The Paintings Gallery, 1885, pastel over softground etching, drypoint, aquatint, and etching, The Art Institute of Chicago, Bequest of Kate L. Brewster. Photography © The Art Institute of Chicago

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    Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, c. 1879–1884, oil on canvas, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, Gift of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and the Regents' Major Acquisitions Fund, Smithsonian Institution. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution / Art Resource, NY

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    Mary Cassatt, The Visitor, c. 1881, softground etching, drypoint, aquatint, etching, and fabric texture, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Image © Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA. Photographer Michael Agee

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    Mary Cassatt, Woman Bathing, 1890–1891, color drypoint and aquatint, National Gallery of Art, Gift of Mrs. Lessing J. Rosenwald

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    Edgar Degas, Scene from the Steeplechase: The Fallen Jockey, 1866, reworked 1880–1881 and c. 1897, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

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    Mary Cassatt, Child Picking a Fruit, 1893, oil on canvas, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Gift of Ivor and Anne Massey. © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Photographer Travis Fullerton

From the moment the American Mary Cassatt (1844–1926) made her debut in 1879 with the group of artists known as the impressionists, her name has been linked with that of the Frenchman Edgar Degas (1834–1917). Cassatt stated that her first encounter with Degas’s art “changed my life,” while Degas, upon seeing Cassatt’s art for the first time, reputedly remarked, “there is someone who feels as I do.” It was this shared sensibility as much as Cassatt’s extraordinary talent that drew Degas’s attention.

The affinity between the two artists is undeniable. Both were realists who drew their inspiration from the human figure and the depiction of modern life, while they eschewed landscape almost entirely.
 Both were highly educated, known for their intelligence and wit, and from well-to-do banking families. They were peers, moving in the same social and intellectual circles. Cassatt, who had settled in Paris in 1874, first met Degas in 1877 when he invited her to participate with the impressionists at their next exhibition. Over the next decade, the two artists engaged in an intense dialogue, turning to each other for advice and challenging each other to experiment with materials and techniques. Both made printmaking an important aspect of their careers and for a time collaborated on their endeavors. Their admiration and support for each other endured long after their art began to head in different directions: Degas continued to acquire Cassatt’s work, while she promoted his to collectors back in the United States. They remained devoted friends for forty years, until Degas’s death.

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington

Sponsors: The exhibition is made possible by a generous grant from Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. in celebration of its 100th Anniversary.

The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation is the foundation sponsor.

The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Image: Mary Cassatt, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, 1878, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

Audio Tour

Narrated by deputy director Franklin Kelly, this tour includes commentary by exhibition curator Kimberly A. Jones, Ann Hoenigswald, senior conservator of paintings, and Kimberly Schenck, head of paper conservation.

Rental: $5, available at the entrance to the exhibition

View all audio tours

Related Artists

Degas, Edgar
French
, 1834 - 1917
Cassatt, Mary
American
, 1844 - 1926
Degas Cassatt

Exhibition Brochure
Degas/Cassatt

Written by Kimberly A. Jones and produced by the department of exhibition programs and the publishing office.

exhibition-catalogue-degas-cassatt

Exhibition Catalogue
Degas/Cassatt
Kimberly A. Jones, Ann Hoenigswald, Amanda T. Zehnder, Marc Rosen, Susan Pinsky, Erica Hirshler, and Elliot Bostwick Davis