Portrait of a Little Girl is an oil painting by Mary Cassatt, an American artist who often depicted children in her artwork. The painting, completed in 1878, features a young girl comfortably seated on a blue armchair with a small Brussels Griffon dog resting in her lap. This painting is now a part of the National Gallery of Art’s collection in Washington D.C., where it is regarded as an exemplary representation of Edgar Degas’s influence on Cassatt.
As a student of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Cassatt was encouraged to pursue further studies abroad. Her portraits of middle-class women were distinctive for their Impressionist style and subtle layers of significance. The painting of the little girl showcases Cassatt’s ability to capture dynamic moments in quiet scenes. This portrait exemplifies such dynamism with its youthful subject’s playful pet dog and relaxed pose.
Portrait of a Little Girl is an excellent example of Cassatt’s practice of portraying the innocence of childhood through her uniquely subtle brushwork. This approach is indicative of her training as an Impressionist artist who preferred to use light brushstrokes to create rich textures and depth in her art. Furthermore, the painting highlights Cassatt’s interest in exploring the nuances of domestic life in her artistic practice, making this artwork an excellent representation of her oeuvre.