Simone in Blue Plumed Hat Mary Cassatt Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Simone in Blue Plumed Hat is a charming artwork by Mary Cassatt which perfectly captured the essence of her career. The model pictured here featured in several other paintings at around the same period.

The drawing went on sale in 2005 with a guide price range of $1m - $1.5m. It was executed in 1903 but went unsold on the day. The valuation seems on the high side in comparison to sales of other pastels by this artist which tend to go for significant sums, but less than this. Much can also depend on the day of auction, and who happens to be bidding and so is not always a reflection on the artwork itself. The item was a part of a Sotheby's event titled American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture in which a number of other artworks from her career were also put up for sale. It is common for auction houses to group related items together so that key bidders can be attracted to a number of different related lots.

Simone in Blue Plumed Hat features most of its detail within the top half of the painting as frequently she would not insert detail below around the shoulder level within her pastel drawings. Here she works aggressively outside of the face of the model, with long strokes and an expressive manner. These probably came after the main focal point has been finished, though time pressure would have been an issue when working with such young children who would not stay still for long. The plumed hat is created with a flash of bright blue, and her lower half is a plain of white pastel. Behind her is a darkness complete with shadowing which was unusual for Cassatt within her pastel portraits. The girl has light hair, possibly blonde or auburn, which hangs down to her chin. She had large eyes, possibly blue, and rosy cheeks. She peers off to our right, with a fairly happy expression.

Cassatt chose to move out of Paris and into the countryside. There was a nearby town called Mesnil-Théribus and it was from here that she acquired the services of several young models, with Simone being her favourite. Previously the artist had used several girls from close families in her social circle but they had grown up by now and Cassatt still desired that balance between mother and younger child, be it a baby or toddler. Simone would appear within as many as twenty different paintings and drawings around this period, underlining how she was favoured by Cassatt for several years. The artist regularly went for fair hair and blue or green eyes which she felt best suited her style of portraiture and you will find these features in a good percentage of her various portraits.