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Audio Stop 216

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We look slightly down onto a woman sitting in a pale green chair, with a nude child sitting in her lap as they both gaze into a mirror in this vertical portrait painting. Both the people have cream-colored, smooth skin. The chair is angled to our left so the woman’s knees and child cant down toward the lower left corner of the composition, and the woman leans onto the arm closer to us. The chair is painted mint-green and the rose-pink upholstery is visible on the seat and a corner behind the woman’s shoulder. To our right, the woman’s vibrant, copper-colored hair is pulled loosely to the back of her head. She has a rounded nose, flushed cheeks, and her full, coral-pink lips are closed. She wears a long, pale, cucumber-green dress with a low, U-shaped neckline. The sleeves of the dress split over the shoulder and a second, long, goldenrod-yellow sleeve falls from her elbow off the bottom edge of the canvas. An oversized sunflower, larger than the woman’s face, is affixed to her dress near her left shoulder, closer to us. She looks with dark eyes down toward the small, gold-rimmed mirror she holds in her right hand, farther from us. The child also holds the handle of the mirror with both hands, and in the reflection, the child looks back at us with dark eyes, a button nose, and pink lips. The child’s hair in the reflection is the same copper as the woman’s, but the child on her lap has golden blond, shoulder-length hair. The woman braces the child’s left shoulder, closer to us. The child has a rounded belly and smooth, rosy limbs. The woman and child are reflected in a second mirror hanging on the wall alongside them, opposite us. Their reflections are very loosely painted. The wall behind the pair is sage green across the top and it shifts to fawn brown across the bottom. Brushstrokes are visible throughout, especially in the woman’s dress and hair, and more blended in the bodies and faces. The artist signed the painting in the lower right corner, “Mary Cassatt.”

Mary Cassatt

Woman with a Sunflower, c. 1905

West Building, Main Floor - Gallery 86

Artist Maria Berrio and curatorial fellow Nikki Georgopolous discuss the relationships and symbols present in Mary Cassatt’s intimate painting.

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