The Boating Party (1893-94) by Mary Cassatt

The Boating Party - Mary Cassatt - 1893 - 1894

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Boating Party
ArtistMary Cassatt
Date1893 - 1894
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions90 x 117.3 cm
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

About The Boating Party

The artwork titled “The Boating Party” is an oil on canvas painting created by the artist Mary Cassatt between 1893 and 1894. Belonging to the Impressionist movement, this genre painting measures 90 x 117.3 cm and is currently housed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The artwork depicts a serene boating scene, capturing the intimacy and leisure of the upper-middle-class lifestyle, a common theme in Cassatt’s oeuvre. At the center, a woman clad in a light, patterned dress with a wide-brimmed bonnet gently holds an infant swaddled in pink. She sits comfortably, slightly turned towards the viewer with subdued placidity, her expression reflecting a serene engagement with her surroundings. Opposite the woman, a man, viewed from the back, is dressed in a blue sailor’s outfit with a beret, emphasizing the nautical setting. He is rowing the boat, his muscular arms stretched forward, grasping the oars that seem to slice into the deep blue waters. The vastness of the water body is implied by the subtle rendering of a distant vessel and the rippling water around the boat.

The composition employs bright sunlight which reflects off the water’s surface and illuminates the subjects, bestowing a vibrant yet soft atmosphere that is typical of Impressionist paintings. The artist’s use of loose brushwork and a vivid palette articulates the transitory effects of light, thus evoking an immediate sensory relationship between the viewer and the scene. With the figures placed prominently within the frame and the expansive water in the background, the artwork conveys both a sense of momentary leisure and the enduring natural beauty surrounding the subjects.

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