Portrait of Madame AF Aude and her Two Daughters Mary Cassatt Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

This portrait was produced in 1899 and is now part of a private collection. It features a mother with her two daughters and was constructed entirely in pastels, which was a medium that Mary Cassatt trusted for this type of genre.

The three figures are placed on the left hand side of this landscape-oriented piece, with the mother placed in the middle, and the daughters either side. The elder has her arm around her mother, whilst the younger sits in front, seemingly focused on something happening off canvas. The background is very plain, so as to allow the focus to lay entirely on the family in the foreground. Their outfits are in complementary colours, all pink, but with mum's dress being a slightly darker tone which ensures the three do not merge together below their faces. All are dressed elegantly, with white decorative elements upon their outfits, and some patterned parts as well. The mother, Madame AF Aude, has dark brown hair which is styled in a fairly solid look, that is also relatively short and perhaps best suited to the rigours of caring for young children. Her daughters are allowed longer, more free-flowing hair with cute bows. They pose just behind an element in the foreground which is hard to identify, it could be the edge of some furniture or the side of a garden wall.

Mary Cassatt was highly skilled in portraiture and usually focused on women and their children, which was a topic that most male artists had not really taken on very often in the past. She hoped to draw people's attention to this part of society which she felt had been ignored for too long by the art world. Cassatt was herself already unusual in being a female artist, compounded by her American nationality which further set her back when trying to gain respect within the French Impressionist movement. Thankfully, she was able to succeed in the end and was thoroughly respected by the time she reached her peak as an artist. Cassatt impressed in both pastels and oils, leaving behind a charming oevure which helped to push the boundaries of who could be considered an artist within the late 19th century. She was also joined by Berthe Morisot and a number of notable female painters to create something of a movement within a movement.

Americans today celebrate the great work of this artist who helped to show the promise of this region which had previously been following on behind. It was now time for the US to lead the way in some aspects of the art world, and that transition continues to be in place today. There has also been a greater movement of art into the US art institutions which means that young artists from the big US cities will be able to study original works in person much more easily than would have been the case previously. The importance of this cannot be underplayed as many of the great European masters who sit and study the work of previous centuries within the great art galleries and museums, such as The Louvre or The National Gallery.