The brushwork has a smoky effect that replaces concern with precision with an atmospheric melancholy, that perhaps reflects the mood of the song or air being played. As is common for Cassatt, she portrays a female, a young girl playing the instrument.
Her expression shows a watchful quality, perhaps responsive to other players and singers out of the picture. But this responsiveness is balanced with the activity of her own playing, showing femininity both active and passive.
Mary Cassatt’s The Mandolin Player is in a private collection.