Mary Cassatt: Reine Lefebvre Holding a Nude Baby

THU, FEB 16, 2017

The daughter of a prosperous, socially prominent Pittsburgh family, Cassatt resolved about 1860 to become an artist. After traveling in Europe to study the old masters, she settled in Paris, where in 1877 she was invited by Edgar Degas to join the French Impressionists. Cassatt exhibited several times with the group between 1879 and 1886, thereby becoming the only American so intimately associated with these radical artists.

While landscapes and scenes of the city and its cafés and theaters were favored by many of her male colleagues, Cassatt focused on intimate, domestic subjects, such as the theme of mother and child that she repeated throughout her career. By 1902 the artist had lived for almost a decade in the village of Mesnil-Theribus (about fifty miles northwest of Paris), where she often had neighbors pose for her, as they seemed more at ease than professional models. The young mother in Worcester's painting sat for Cassatt many times in 1902 and 1903, appearing in several preparatory sketches done in both oil and pastel. This final version reveals the characteristic solid forms and design that had emerged in Cassatt's work in the 1890s, when she was first influenced by the strong patterns and contours in Japanese prints.

+ BIO: Heather Lemonedes

Heather Lemonedes was appointed Chief Curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art in May 2016. She joined the curatorial staff of the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2002, and was named curator of Drawings in 2010. She also serves as adjunct professor in the Department of Art History at Case Western Reserve University.

Lemonedes has curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions with scholarly catalogues at the Cleveland Museum of Art, including British Drawings from the Cleveland Museum of Art (2013); Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889 (2009), co-organized by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam; and Monet in Normandy (2007), co-organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the North Carolina Museum of Art. In addition, Lemonedes has curated various exhibitions for the prints and drawings galleries, including Pure Color: Pastels from the Cleveland Museum of Art (2016-17); Imagining the Garden (2015-16); Themes and Variations: Musical Drawings and Prints (2015); and Mary Cassatt and the Feminine Ideal in 19th-century Paris (2012).

Lemonedes received a Bachelor’s degree in art history from Vassar College, a Master’s degree from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and a PhD from the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Previously, she has been employed in the Prints and Drawings Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in the Print Department at Christie’s, New York. She has served on the Board of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, and served two terms as president of the Vassar Club of Cleveland.

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