Cassatt works with expressive strokes of pastel here, only using carefully crafted detail around the model's face. The rest is an explosion of colour which was one of the exciting elements of pastel drawing which excited the artist. The female found here has a fairly flat hair style, and her expression is particularly serious. She is captured down to her shoulders, with the rest covered diagonal strokes of white across the bottom, and yellow and green for the background above. She has large red lips but some of the normal features found in Cassatt's models are not present here - for example, she is a little older than the artist normally liked in her portraits, and her hair is a dark brown rather than the normal blonde or auburn. That said, she is still pretty and this artwork holds a solid value which would have risen considerably in recent years, in line with her oeuvre overall.
Cassatt and Degas would work together on pastel portraits throughout the 1890s and they shared a real love for this art form which had previously been ignored by most academics. The Impressionists would ultimately refresh interest in the medium, and Monet would always impress within it as well, though he tended to focus on landscape pastel drawings instead. In recent years there has been an increased focus on the Impressionists' contributions in this art form, as curators attempt to make their exhibition displays more interesting and varied. Art students also tend to be particularly interested in draughtsmen, as this is a skill in which they are introduced fairly early in their studies and it remains an important basis for almost all other types of art. Going back to more traditional times, it was considered an essential skill for any artist, whatever medium they would later choose to specialise in.
In terms of Edgar Degas, some of his most famous paintings included Green Dancer, Blue Dancers and also this portrait of the Bellelli Family. He became good friends with Cassatt and they helped each other to progress within the Impressionist movement, although Degas himself was not comfortable being part of an official collective and remained fiercely independent in that regard throughout his career. They would be two key members of the 19th century French art scene that provided highly influential art which continues to be highly celebrated today and takes us all back to a time of innocence and purity, without the technology that pervays our lives today. There has been a growing interest in recent years as well to feature the best female artists from all major art movements, and Cassatt fits perfectly into that drive.