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Mary Stevenson Cassatt
American, 1844–1926
Portrait of Mrs. Cyrus J. Lawrence and Her Grandson, R. Lawrence Oakley
c. 1898–88
Pastel on paper
Gift of Mrs. R. Lawrence Oakley & Mrs. Eileen W. Payne, 1975
1973.36

  "Of all the Cassatts at the Clark, this one interests me the most. Done during her first trip back to the United States after over twenty years as an expatriate in Paris, it is one of several portraits her American friends persuaded her to undertake. She knew that the portrait style of John Singer Sargent and Cecilia Beaux was in vogue in wealthy American circles, so she played off of it. The elegant costumes and easy poses of the sitters give the portrait the aristocratic grace that had become so popular for portraits of this type. But at the same time, Cassatt's careful delineation of the rather plain facial features does not flatter them the way Sargent or Beaux might have. In America, Cassatt's critics (and probably her sitters) admired her rejection of the 'pretty-pretty' but couldn't help but wish that she would do 'a little more pandering in this matter.'"

Nancy Mowll Mathews
Eugénie Prendergast Senior Curator of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Art and Lecturer in Art
Williams College Museum of Art
Williamstown, Massachusetts



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