Mary Cassatt was an American artist who was to spend the bulk of her career in France, becoming associated with the Impressionists. Cassatt first arrived in France in the 1860s at a time when the stranglehold of the classically-orientated Academy was being cast off. Manet’s new forward-looking art was typified by loose brushwork and unusual perspectives. Also, this period saw the emergence of early Impressionism such as that of Claude Monet.
Indeed, at the instigation of Edgar Degas, Cassatt exhibited her work with the Impressionists in 1877. In spite of this association, Cassatt sought to maintain her artistic independence and pursued her work in various styles.
In the present work, The Pink Sash of 1898, we are struck by its informality – both the domestic interior and the style and the rapidity with which it is drawn. Towards the lower half of the composition, the picture is broken down into its constituent parts of line and color, the lines no longer conforming and indeed ‘going for a walk’. The upper part of the picture is a more conventional representation. The little girl’s face and hair are realistically drawn to the point where her sullen expression is distinct and natural.
The medium of pastel also affords Cassatt the opportunity to revel in the brilliance of blues, pinks, and the green of the chair.
Mary Cassatt’s The Pink Sash can be viewed in the Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia.