Lady at the Tea Table: Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt: Lady at the Tea Table

Lady at the Tea Table is an 1883-1885 painting in the Impressionist style by the leading American painter and printmaker Mary Cassatt. It has a monumental quality as the quiet but broad figure of Mary Dickinson Riddle, the artist’s mother’s cousin, sits in front of us while looking out to her left.

The painting, created between 1883 and 1885, was intended as a return gift after the sitter made a present of the Qing porcelain tea set depicted to the Cassatt’s. The simple, starkly drawn shapes of the composition are reminiscent of Oriental art, which had an influence on Cassatt, which makes for an accord between form and the content, i.e. the tea set.

Riddle’s daughter disliked the portrayal of her mother so Cassatt donated it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 1923 where it remains on display today.

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