Mary Cassatt’s painting, Woman in Black at the Opera, created during the impressionist movement, depicts a woman wearing black attire attending an opera in late 19th century Paris. This genre of painting often focused on feminine subjects and personalities. During this time, women would dress to be looked at when attending operas in Paris.
Cassatt was one of few American women who became a professional artist in the 19th century. Her passion for painting led her to travel extensively through Europe as a child and later to Paris where she focused on her art. Cassatt formed a close friendship with American Louisine Elder, who sought her guidance in assembling a collection of paintings.
In Woman in Black at the Opera, Cassatt showcases her talent for portraying figures and their surroundings through detailed brushstrokes that bring life and depth to the scene. This style is evident throughout many of Cassatt’s works which typically depicted women and children with special attention given to the bond between mother and child. Her largest work was a mural painted for the Women’s Building of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
Overall, Mary Cassatt is considered one of the most modern painters of 19th century America due to her depictions of everyday life and attention to detail that ensured her figures came alive on canvas.