Mary Cassatt’s “Young Mother Sewing” may be suggestive of the artist’s daily activities growing up in an affluent, cultured family. The painting features Margot Lux, a child who often posed for Cassatt, and Reine Lefebvre, a woman who lived near Cassatt’s 17th-century manor house, which is thought to be the setting for this artwork. The work utilizes conventional central placement of the figures, but is otherwise alive with Cassatt’s Impressionistic ability to capture the fleeting effects of shadows and glowing light.
Affluence did not prevent Mary Cassatt (1844 – 1926) from becoming a professional artist in an era when wealthy American women did not usually work. Studying in the United States and later moving to France, Cassatt considered the work of Edgar Degas to be life-altering, prompting her to become a prominent Impressionist. Cassatt principally painted children and scenes of motherhood with simplicity, energetic brushwork and glowing colors. Her work graces many private and public collections, including Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.