Lydia At A Tapestry Frame

Mary Cassatt

American, 1844 - 1926

Lydia at a Tapestry Frame, ca. 1881

  • On View

Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 25 5/8 × 36 3/8 in. (65.1 × 92.4 cm)
Framed: 35 × 46 × 4 1/2 in. (88.9 × 116.8 × 11.4 cm)

Gift of The Whiting Foundation, 1967.32

In this painting, Mary Cassatt portrays her sister Lydia (1837–1882), who was eight years older than the artist. When Mary settled in Paris in 1874, Lydia joined her the following year as her companion, confidante, and chaperone. Lydia supervised the domestic duties of the household, which freed her sister to pursue her painting career. She was Mary’s preferred model between 1875 and 1882, the year Lydia died of Bright’s disease, a degenerative disease of the kidneys. Cassatt was the only American artist to be invited to exhibit with the French Impressionists. Unsatisfied with the rigidity of the American system of academic art, Cassatt left for France in 1865 in order to study the works of the old masters. In 1877, she made the acquaintance of the celebrated Impressionist painter Edgar Degas, who invited Cassatt to exhibit her work with the Impressionists.

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