Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge 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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This is certainly not the first painting I’ve seen by Mary Cassatt where there was a theatre evening going on. This time, she doesn't identify the woman in the painting, but as a viewer and a fan, I believe it to be Lydia Cassatt, her kinswoman.

Lydia was a woman of similar style and colouring, judging by the paintings I have seen of her. The woman is young, with an elegant style of dress and hair. She is smiling and enjoying her evening. One can observe the various theatre balconies and boxes all around. The subject of the painting is wearing an elegant pearl necklace. She seems to be glowing with delight. Perhaps she has just received a gift of this elegant piece of jewellery? Who knows? It seems very strange that the pearl necklace, rather than the wearer, is getting a mention and some attention. It appears to be the focal point of the portrait, to be honest. The elegant lady is auburn or golden-haired. She wears a décollete gown in peach colour. She is wearing long white gloves and carries a fan.

Seated in a loge, probably among family members. She appears to be thoroughly enjoying her evening. Mary Cassatt was a contemporary of the Impressionists and appears to have been inspired by them. She refused to be classified as a painter, however. She is known for her sympathetic depictions of women’s lives as they went about their day. Although she never committed to matrimony, she was accustomed to the ins and outs of family life. Throughout her life, when circumstances allowed, she spent quality time with her siblings and their spouses and observed their joys, sorrows and everything in between. As a woman, she was an independent type. But her being female gave her entrée into the world of women, unlike other painters. So she was in a good position to observe and depict.

This oil on canvas painting was painted in 1879 and by all accounts, the lady is Lydia Cassatt and no other. The theatre is reportedly the Paris Opera House too. As Mary Cassatt spent much of her adult life in France, this is not particularly surprising. It is good to get a view of the Paris Opera House from a contemporary painter. As a 19th century painter, Mary Cassatt's talent seems to lie in capturing special, happy moments. Capturing them and preserving them for posterity.