Mary Cassatt’s series of prints, including The Bath, was heavily influenced by her exposure to Japanese art. The flattened picture plane and decorative patterning used in The Child’s Bath were the culmination of her investigation into this style. However, Cassatt also deviated from traditional Japanese art by incorporating a unique angle of vision inspired by Edgar Degas.
The painting’s composition is unconventional in several ways. It employs cropped forms, patterns, and outlines to create a sense of intimacy between the mother and child. This physical closeness suggests an emotional bond between the two.
In addition to its groundbreaking composition, The Child’s Bath also showcases Cassatt’s experimental approach to printmaking. She would often monitor her developing designs by printing intermediary states in black before finalizing a particular color scheme.
Mary Cassatt was one of the few female Impressionist painters who successfully navigated an inherently masculine field. Her innovative use of Japanese influences in The Child’s Bath serves as testament to her status as an accomplished and trailblazing artist.