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Mary Cassatt

A small brown dog and a pale-skinned little girl wearing a white dress sit in matching celestial-blue armchairs in this horizontal painting. To our right, the girl sits with her legs angled to our left. She slumps back with her legs spread, and her left elbow, on our right, is bent so that hand rests behind her head. Her other elbow is draped over the armrest. Her dark brown hair appears to be pulled back, and tawny brown eyes under faint brows gaze down and to our left. She has a small nose set in a round face and a coral-pink mouth closed in a straight line. Her white dress has touches of gray, soft pink, and powder blue with a wide plaid sash around her waist. The pine-green, black, and sapphire-blue sash is accented with overlapping vertical and horizontal lines of burnt orange, light blue, and mustard yellow. Her socks match her sash and come up to mid-calf, over black shoes with silver buckles. The small dog has scruffy black fur and a russet-brown face. It lies curled in the chair opposite the girl, to our left, with its eyes closed and ears pricked up. The rounded backs of the upholstered chairs curve down to become the low arms. The vivid and light blue fabric of the chairs is scattered with loosely painted strokes of avocado and forest green, peach pink, cherry red, plum purple, and white. Beyond the chairs closest to us is another armchair and an armless loveseat, both covered with the same fabric. They sit at the back of the room, in a corner flooded with silvery light coming through four windows on the right side. The furniture is arranged on a peanut-brown floor. The artist signed in the lower left, “Mary Cassatt.”

Mary Cassatt, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, 1878, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 1983.1.18

Mary Cassatt painted many images of mothers and children. She painted the scenes that she saw around her: children taking a bath, playing in the sand, and spending time with their parents. Observing from real life, Cassatt was able to capture everyday moments.


What colors can you find in the armchairs? What patterns?

What is the little girl wearing? Describe her outfit.

Look carefully at how the little girl is sitting, then take the same pose with your body.

What else can you find in this room?

What do you think this little girl might be thinking or feeling? (To help children think through this question, draw a speech bubble on a printed version of the image and fill in what the girl might be saying.) Have you ever felt this way?

If you could talk to this girl, what would you ask her? What might she ask you?

Imagine this painting is a scene from the middle of a story. What happened before this? What might happen next?

What name would you give the puppy? What title would you give the painting?



Good Boy Fergus! (Spanish langauge version: ¡Muy bien Fergus!)

by David Shannon

Fergus the dog has a perfect day experiencing all his favorite things.


Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter

by Barbara Herkert and Gabi Swiatkowska

This book tells the story of Cassatt's life and her desire to be an artist at a time when few women were recognized in the art world.

MAKE: Paint a quiet moment

You will need:

  • Paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Heavyweight paper

Where do you go to have some quiet time? You might think of a place at home, at school, outside, or somewhere else. What do you do in this place? Are you by yourself, or is someone with you? If you can, spend some time in that place before making this painting.

Now, paint that special place. When you’re ready to paint, decide on the most important things to include in your painting. Try to make them fill the paper. How can you use color and pattern, or a person’s pose, to capture a particular feeling?

You might want to paint someone else in a quiet moment. Ask a family member or friend to pose for you, or even your family pet!


  • observe
  • pose
  • quiet

Art Tales: Coloring and Cut-Outs booklet (PDF, 3.5 MB)

Art Tales for Pre-K (PDF, 7.2 MB)

Primeros Pasos En El Arte (PDF, 7.5 MB)

Primeros Pasos En El Arte: Colorear y Recortes (PDF, 3.7 MB)

Picturing France teaching resource

An Eye for Art: Mary Cassatt teaching resource (PDF, 9.4 MB)

Register for the Art Tales pre-K school tour

Send images of your students' projects that follow these activities - email [email protected]