Young Woman in Green Outdoors in the Sun 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 portrait is dated at circa 1914 and was a rare example of Mary Cassatt capturing a model portrait in an outdoor setting. The precise location of this painting today is unknown, and therefore likely to be within a private collection.

The artist reduced her palette down to just a few colours within Young Woman in Green Outdoors in the Sun, with green and white tones dominating most of the painting. There is a flash of orange in the background, which sets the sky from just behind a flurry of trees. She keeps the detail across the artwork to a minimum, other than the facial features of the young woman, which is a way of controlling our focus. The lady appears to be sat close to her own home, which drifts into the scene from the left. Perhaps she is sat on a small patio in her back garden. She wears a round white hat which has green detailing on the top, and the colours continue again with her dress, which is predominantly green, but with white frills around her shoulders and neckline. The model has brown hair which is partially covered by her hat and her expression is serious, providing a slight disconnect between artist and sitter. In other examples Cassatt built relationships with her models that would then produce more relaxed expressions and an atmosphere which appeared more comfortable.

Few Impressionists, if any, would have produced as many portraits as Mary Cassatt and she also offered a unique perspective as a female painter. This allowed her work to provide a flash of variety into the group, although she was joined by other women over time who also helped to encourage future female artists. In the present day there is now more interest in Cassatt's work than there ever has been, although it is important to remember that she achieved success and respect purely by her own means, rather than because society was trying to give her particular help, as seems to be the case today. She established an important oeuvre which overcame a number of hurdles and entirely deserves to be celebrated today, purely as a great painter.

The delightful use of bright colour which is facilitated by the artist's decision to produce this portrait in an outdoor setting will remind some of the work of Joaquin Sorolla, who was a Spanish artist who painted in the style of the French Impressionists. He gave us classic paintings such as Beach at Valencia, The Return from Fishing and Children on the Beach as part of a very large and consistent oevure which helped to widen the boundaries of the global Impressionist movement. He remains much loved within his native Spain and is well served within the permanent collection of the Prado Museum in Madrid which currently has a whole room dedicated to his popular artworks. Although Cassatt was technically a foreigner herself, she is considered very much a part of the French Impressionist movement herself because of her close ties to the country, where she lived for many years.