Mary Cassatt’s Lydia in a Loge, Wearing a Pearl Necklace is an 1879 painting that has become one of her most famous works. The painting captures the scene of Cassatt’s sister sitting in a private loge at the prestigious Paris Opera House. The subject, who wears a pearl necklace, sits with her opera glasses raised, as if looking out onto the stage. However, it is the shifting light and color in this work that emphasizes its Impressionistic style.
Influenced by Impressionism movement, Cassatt successfully captured the beauty of modern life and depicted an interest in city nightlife which many sought after artists during this era also shared. In Lydia in a Loge…, she focused on shading and highlights to depict light bouncing off surfaces and casting shadows. Notably, the scene is mirrored behind Lydia’s head which allowed Philip Guston to comment later that it creates “a complex psychic drama” where it reflects other boxes without revealing their occupants’ faces.
Today, established as part of art history’s canon of great works, Lydia in a Loge… can be found exhibited at Philadelphia Museum of Art since its acquisition by said institution back in 1978. This masterpiece showcases Mary Cassatt’s talent for conveying facial expression using vivid colors giving viewers insight not only into life at the turn of the century but also how women were portrayed throughout art history.”