Mary Cassatt: The Tea (1880)

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Tea by Mary Cassatt, 1880, oil on canvas, 25½ × 36¼ in., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
“Cassatt’s paintings often document the social interactions of well-to-do women like herself. The activities they depict—tea drinking, going to the theatre, tending children—fall within the normal routine for Cassatt’s sex and class. Yet the painter’s insistence upon representing such episodes from the modern world (even a sheltered segment of it), her dislike for narrative, and her devotion to surface arrangement and color, all evident in The Tea, mark Cassatt’s dedication to the most advanced artistic principles of her day.”
Quote from Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Read More
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Tea by Mary Cassatt, 1880, oil on canvas, 25½ × 36¼ in., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (detail)

“The two women play the traditional roles of hostess and guest, although it appears that their conversation has lapsed: the hostess (on the left, in a simple brown day dress) rests her hand on her chin while her guest (wearing the hat, scarf, and gloves that indicate she has stepped in from outside) sips her tea. The hostess is often identified as Cassatt’s sister Lydia and the guest as a family friend, but it is equally likely the women were Cassatt’s usual models, one brunette and one blonde; the women appear in several of Cassatt’s contemporary scenes of women at the opera.” Quote from Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Read More

 

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Tea by Mary Cassatt, 1880, oil on canvas, 25½ × 36¼ in., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (detail)

“The guest’s pose is a momentary one, for she will soon lift the delicate cup from her lips and replace it on the saucer she balances in her left hand. By selecting the only point in the action when her subject’s face is almost completely hidden by the teacup, Cassatt reiterates her modernist creed that her painting is not only about representing likeness, but also about design and color.” Quote from Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,” Read More

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Tea by Mary Cassatt, 1880, oil on canvas, 25½ × 36¼ in., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (detail)

“Cassatt’s painting The Tea is set in a contemporary drawing room, sometimes described as Cassatt’s own. The fine striped wallpaper and carved marble fireplace, ornamented with an elaborately framed painting and a porcelain jar, are typical of an upper-middle class Parisian interior, and the antique silver tea service on the foreground table implies a distinguished family history.” Quote from Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,” Read More

Click for Enlarged Image

 

Sources

“The Tea” by Mary Cassatt, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/the-tea-32829, (accessed August 21, s018),

Wikipedia contributors, “Mary Cassatt,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mary_Cassatt&oldid=857243023 (accessed September 1, 2018).

More Information

 

Thanks for reading! 🙂

The End

5 Comments Add yours

  1. JMN says:

    The appurtenances and fixtures that surround her figures are fascinating. I love the wallpaper, for example. All the details. Amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, those details make me feel like I could step into the room and hold a warm cup of tea, too. What a great word -‘appurtenances’. (Only my children understand how much joy new words bring me.) ;-). Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. JMN says:

        I understand. I experienced a shiver of pleasure at encountering “recrudescence” used by Ross Douthat in the NYTimes this morning! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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