Collectors have shown a great interest in her work in the last two decades, as a greater acceptance of her qualities as an artist have started to be recognised. There has also been an increased focus on female artists more generally, with auction houses highlighting some of their work within larger sales. Western artists have sometimes been featured in Asian based auction sales but it is relatively rare to see a Cassatt artwork appear for sale outside of America or Europe. She was American but lived in, and entirely understood, European culture which was key to her deciding to become an artist. She became a part of the Impressionist movement and learnt a lot from her fellow colleagues, who in return treated her with respect and rated her work highly. Degas was particularly close to Cassatt and his use of pastels influenced her decision to use them herself. The artwork featured here covers the mother and child theme, a topic used frequently by Mary Cassatt for her drawings.
The mother looks down but towards us, whilst the child has its back to the side, but face turned also towards us. The child is just a few years old and does not wear any clothes, increasing the atmosphere of mother and child bond. The mother wears an orange outfit which contrasts against a bright blue background which has been completed quickly and was expressive strokes of pastel. This charming piece received a valuation of $500,000-700,000 fairly recently and actually ended up being purchased for even more than that, once commissions had been included. It therefore proved a good decision to auction the piece in Asia as it received one of the highest prices ever paid for a drawing by this artist, as part of an overall series of work which was promoted under the event title of American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture, which was held in May, 2010.
You will notice how most of the bottom section of the drawing is left without any real detail, other than just some simple lines which suggests at where the figures would have continued, had the artwork been continued in this part. Cassatt regularly did this, and was a feature found within study pieces, where one particular section was being focused on, meaning the rest was not relevant for that particular exercise. In this case, though, this is a genuinely independent artwork which she simply did not want to take into too much detail other than the facial features of child and mother. We have discovered from the auction centre's discussion of this piece just prior to its sale in 2010 that the two figures pictured here are Reine Lefebvre, the mother, and her daughter Margot Lux.