The model found here has certain features which Cassatt frequently picked out for her work - she regularly chose auburn hair, with fair skin. She would also normally go for girls, and generally preferred the female gender for her work. Looking back, it is pleasing that she did so as it provided a extra avenue of variety to the Impressionist movement, who tended to be about men painting other men. Society as it was then had little interest in the roles of women in many cases, but thankfully there were some who ignored this sexism to focus on the lives of those forgotten. Cassatt was a highly skilled technical artist whose oeuvre differed from her male counterparts, though it must be remembered that she was well received by the Impressionists themselves. They were about changing traditions and pushing things forward, so would have afforded her greater respect than some of the more pompous elements found elsewhere within the French art industry of the late 19th century.
The girl featured here was known as Margot Lux and returned several times within different paintings and drawings within Cassatt's career. She signed this piece and dated it at 1903, though produced several similar portraits of the same girl in the following year, one of which can now be found in the collection the The Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts, USA. It is interesting to note that both pieces follow a very similar layout, with the same red hat used in both, and also much the same angled face for the young girl. The large image featured below helps one to understand the loose strokes that Cassatt liked to incorporate around the main focal point - see the rough strokes of pink at the bottom, for example. Incidentally, Child with Red Hat is the name of the similar piece at the The Clark Art Institute and they also own a number of other artworks from Cassatt's career.
Mary Cassatt would become known as an integral member of the Impressionist movement, and achieved academic success despite the barriers placed in front of her by cultural norms of the day. For not only was she a woman, but as an American there would be even more people who resisted her work, though eventually her technical brilliance could no-longer be denied. There were several other female painters within the Impressionist movement, representing its forward-looking nature, with Berthe Morisot also leaving behind an impactful career. She was French, and perhaps this made her life a little easier than that of Cassatt, though they both had to rise against critical rejection many times and displayed a strong will in order to eventually succeed. Some of Morisot's finest artworks included the likes The Cradle, Woman at her Toilette and Eugène Manet on the Isle of Wight. Eugene was actually the brother of another famous artist, Edouard Manet.