We find some very brisk strokes of the pastels here, leaving long lines of colour, many of which do not blend together, allowing parts of the paper underneath to show through. Cassatt often worked quickly on her pastel portraits, in part to allow her expressive side to come through, but also potentially because of the young age of some of her models, meaning it would not be long before they attempted to wriggle away! She treated painting and drawing as two very different mediums, and her use of oil would be more thorough, taking time to consider each and every part of the canvas. Those would normally be completed from the comfort of her own studio, where as the faster drawings could be constructed in the presence of her models. Cassatt sometimes chose families who did not come from the same wealthy background as herself, hoping to improve their lives with these small payments for their services, with several figures appearing several times across different portraits.
If we look directly at this piece, we find the mother with bright, auburn hair and a very fair complexion. She has pouting red lips, and rosy cheeks. Her hair is up, in a smart, pragamatic style which perhaps reflects the challenging nature of being a housewife to young children. Her purple dress provides a flash of colour which immediately captures your eye and also works particularly well in contrast with her hair tone. She looks adoringly at her child, who is perched on her left leg and looks towards us. The child is in a light blue outfit which is loose around one shoulder, perhaps oversized in order to adapt to the fast growing nature of toddlers. She has a similar tone of red hair, but just a little lighter, which reaches down to the ears. They sit on a brown chair, the top of which just makes it into the composition. The background is evenly more loosely delivered, with long strokes of green, and the lack of detail means we cannot be sure if the setting was indoors or outdoors.
The drawing was sold for $560,000 in 2020 and was listed at Sotheby's, who confirmed its medium to have been pastel on tan paper which was laid down on board. The piece was 71.8 cm tall by 56.5 cm wide which is large by the standards of pastel drawings, but not uncommon for this artist who was intending to create a genuine, independent artwork which could be presented as such, rather than a study drawing which tend to be smaller, and sometimes a part of a sketchbook. Cassatt is known to have been inspired by the work of Edgar Degas, with whom she had a strong friendship - she was particularly inspired by his own pastel drawings and that must have been keen to her own decision to work within this medium many times, focusing on portraiture in most examples.