Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)
Two Little Sisters
signed 'Mary Cassatt' (lower right)
oil on canvas
13 x 161⁄4 in. (33 x 41.3 cm.)
Painted circa 1901-02.
Ambroise Vollard, Paris, France.
Galerie Hervé, Paris, France.
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1958.
Need Help? Email our Specialists or call +1 212 636 2000 with questions.
A.D. Breeskin, Mary Cassatt: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oils, Pastels, Watercolors, and Drawings, Washington, D.C., 1970, p. 81, no. 141, illustrated.
G.T.M. Schackelford, "Pax de deux: Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas," Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1998, p. 140n26.
V. Hamilton, Millet to Mattisse: Nineteenth- and Twentieth-century French Painting from Kevingrove Art Gallery, exhibition catalogue, New Haven, Connecticut, 2002, p. 70.
This work is included in the Cassatt Committee’s revision of Adelyn Doehme Breeskin’s catalogue raisonné of the works of Mary Cassatt.
Throughout her career, Mary Cassatt explored the subject of children with a wonderful sense of intimacy and tenderness. Her images of young girls are among the finest examples of American Impressionism, and she received much acclaim for her pictures of this subject, returning to the theme throughout her career and investigating it in various mediums. Two Little Sisters is a superb example of her celebrated work, portraying two endearing and youthful girls painted in the hallmark Impressionist technique of Cassatt’s mature style.
Two Little Sisters demonstrates the thoroughly worked and vibrant surface of Cassatt's fully developed aesthetic. Painted in a close embrace, the two siblings' tender affection resonates off the canvas, lending an immediacy and liveliness to the composition. The heaviest brushwork is used to express the sisters’ warm skin, the fullness of their rosy cheeks and golden hair. With an economy of outlining strokes, Cassatt subtly suggests their bright clothing. Using vivaciously applied colors, Cassatt builds her background with energnetic dashes.
The stylistic maturity of Cassatt's works such as Two Little Sisters was met with great acclaim from critics, dealers, collectors and students on both sides of the Atlantic. The artist's broad international appeal during this period was testament that, "Although she worked throughout her entire career in France, her art is indeed expressive of the vitality which characterized the sturdy American temperament of her own epoch. She fused these thoroughly native qualities with a deep appreciation and thorough knowledge of the painting tradition of France, significantly enriching her life and art." (A.D. Breeskin in The Knoedler Galleries, The Paintings of Mary Cassatt, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1966, n.p.)