Mary Cassatt’s ‘The Letter’ is an Impressionist print created in 1890-91. The artwork showcases the patterns of a woman’s dress and wallpaper, combined with vibrant printing inks to manipulate space and formal elements inspired by Japanese art. Its subject matter reflects the artist’s focus on women indoors due to contemporary social mores restricting their activities outside the home. Cassatt often depicted the private lives of women and children in her paintings, blending Impressionism’s light color palette and free brushwork with themes inspired by Japanese artwork as well as the Old Masters of Europe.
Beyond its aesthetics, ‘The Letter’ is a reflection of gender norms during Cassatt’s time; it highlights how limited opportunities were for women and how they were expected to confine themselves primarily to domestic spaces. This artwork also shows how Japanese art influenced several trends during that era, as reflected not only in composition but also through artistic style choices such as vivid colors or texture details.
Currently located at the Collection of Chester Dale in New York City, this piece has become an iconic example within Impressionism due to its bold combination of elements from European and Asian cultures. In general terms, Cassatt aimed to represent femininity through an artistic interpretation that conveyed different moods without objectification, such as ‘The Letter’ portrays contemplation and quietness without relying on stereotypes about female emotions or character traits.
Overall, Mary Cassatt’s ‘The Letter’ demonstrates not only her proficiency in printmaking techniques but also showcases her reflections on women’s lives during Victorian society limitations while combining Eastern influences into Western styles successfully.