Here we find an attractive young lady deep in thought as she sews out in her garden. Her attention is entirely devoted to the intricate skill that may have been passed on to her by older generations of her family. She wears a pretty, full length blue dress which would have even covered her feet, were it not for the artist's decision to crop this composition just below her knee. Her hair is precisely styled, as she wanted to look her best in this portrait, and she wears a little makeup, but applied it with subtlety. Her facial features are delicate and feminine, meaning she was ideally suited to modelling for artists such as this and may have been used by Cassatt on other occasions. Behind her sits a garden scene which is loosely painted to avoid taking too much attention away from the figure in the foreground. The art of sewing appears several times within this artist's career as she attempted to capture the relaxing moments of female life during this period. Few had approaches these themes during the late 19th century, making this artist's oeuvre particularly unique and significant.
The only unusual element to this painting when placed within Cassatt's overall career is that the setting was outdoors - most of the time she would capture women and children within domestic environments in order to best capture their daily lives. The location in a garden allows a far greater amount of light to saturate everything within the composition, and it is this which makes this piece so impressive and memorable. This painting can now be found in the collection of the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, where is sits alongside other great works such as the likes of Olympia and Lunch on the Grass by Edouard Manet, Gleaners by Jean-François Millet, Summer Night by Winslow Homer and Whistler's Mother. The collection concentrated exclusively on French art for many years before eventually allowing great names from abroad to be included for the first time.
The incredible use of light here which saturates the entire scene will remind many of the work of Spanish Impressionist, Joaquin Sorolla. Even Monet labelled him as the true master of light and you will find a style that would be hard to achieve outside of the hot climate of Southern Europe. Some of his most finest creations were Women Walking on the Beach, Sewing the Sail and Sad Inheritance and those interested in his career will find an excellent selection in the collection of the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain. Although not part of the original French Impressionists, his style was undeniably similar and also technically of a very high standard and so deserves to be mentioned in the same breathe as his French colleagues. A similar offshoot of the movement would also occur in the US, though Cassatt was very much a part of the original French movement, as she was based there herself.