Mary Stevenson Cassatt
1844–1926 | American
Signed (lower center)
Drypoint, soft-ground etching, and aquatint, printed in colors, inked à la poupée, on laid paper
Edition of 25. Fourth and final state
Along with her contemporary Berthe Morisot, Mary Stevenson Cassatt is celebrated as one of art history’s leading female Impressionists. A dedicated printmaker, Cassatt produced more than two hundred aquatints, etchings, drypoints and lithographs over a period of thirty years. The present work, entitled The Lamp, is part of a series of ten color prints that she executed, with the help of M. LeRoy, a professional printer, in 1890-91. Although Cassatt frequently based prints on her earlier paintings and pastels, this series of ten color prints are remarkable not only for their original compositions but also for their appropriation of Japanese printmaking styles. Today, they are considered among the finest prints in American art, a fitting tribute to Cassatt’s radical approach.
Of the series, The Lamp is perhaps the one that most reveals Cassatt’s debt to Japanese prints, and it also demonstrates her growing mastery of the aquatint technique. The evolution of the print’s composition is slight, with only a few minor changes from the first to the fourth and final state. Earlier prints in her series of color aquatints required as many as seventeen states for the artist to be satisfied. In The Lamp, Cassatt, having settled on the composition early on, was able to embark on a remarkable exploration of color printing, in which she used the aquatint technique on all three plates used to make the final print. By the final state, of which the present print is an example, Cassatt had carefully reworked each color region to avoid overlap and maximize the crispness of line. The result is one of most dynamic and colorful of her series of prints, a true masterpiece in American printmaking.
Paper: 12 3/4” high x 9 15/16” wide
Frame: 22” high x 20” wide
This piece is pictured on page 22 of Mary Cassatt: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Graphic Work, 1979, by A. Dohme Breeskin
Spanierman Gallery, New York, 2010, In Praise of WomenM.S. Rau, New Orleans, 2022, Revolutionaries: The Impressionists and Post-Impressionists