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Mary Cassatt’s Artful Tea

February 26, 2008

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Gentle women have been sipping tea in Europe and the United States for centuries. By the late 1880s, however, we were blessed with a world-class artist who captured this relaxing pastime in her work. You’ve probably seen prints and posters derived from her original paintings and pastel renderings; they remain quite popular to this day. But you may not know the artist behind the colorful images.

Mary Stevenson Cassatt was born in Philadelphia and studied art abroad where she focused on the Old Masters. Cassatt drew acclaim as the only American selected to exhibit with the French Impressionists. She is also recognized for her depictions of the social and private lives of women. One typical subject was that of well-bred ladies enjoying tea.

By 1908, deteriorating eyesight virtually ended Cassatt’s career, but – luckily for us – she had already given the world a unique body of work. Today you can view much of Cassatt’s art online, including her tea-themed paintings. Afternoon Tea Party can be seen at the New York Public Library Website and The Cup of Tea is only a click away at the Metropolitan Museum of Art site, where you can also find pages filled with additional information on Cassatt.

Five O'Clock Tea
Five O’clock Tea by Mary Cassatt



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