Curator‘s Comments

Mary Cassatt came late to printmaking. She was encouraged in her initial experiments by the resurgence of interest in etching prompted by the works of James McNeill Whistler, who established a large body of printed work that he considered equal in importance to his painting. Edgar Degas invited Cassatt to submit images for a proposed journal called Le Jour et La Nuit, prompting her to create her first prints. Although the journal was never published, Cassatt continued to make inventive prints for the remainder of her career.

I.D. Tags

Under the Horse Chestnut Tree

Ann Musser, Assc. Dir. for Academic Programs & Public Education, SCMA

Ordinary extraordinary. How is it that Shakespeare never wrote the sonnet to this love? My heart soars. My heart aches. Our love is utterly pedestrian, but unique in all the world.  And the world around disappears into planes of color. I kiss your chubby fist. Each moment brings a thousand wordless communications that pass so freely between us. Memorize your face, and count each eyelash. Strangers notice your milky smell, but you and I are so we that I can only discern its absence. Every day alters you subtly and profoundly.  If only I could stay in the ongoing present moment of you becoming you, forever. The Colorado River etched the Grand Canyon; what mysterious inexorable forces are shaping you? We giggle and I’m on a sublime precipice; you immerse me in the fleeting instant and blue watery eternity.

Image Information: Mary Cassatt, American (1844–1926). Under the Horse Chestnut Tree, 1895. Drypoint and aquatint printed in blue, green, yellow, brown and flesh on paper. Sheet: 18 13/16 x 14 3/8 in.; 47.7838 x 36.5125 cm; plate: 16 1/8 x 11 3/8 in.; 40.9575 x 28.8925 cm. Bequest of Helen Haase

Under the Horse Chestnut Tree

Michele Wick, Psychology

Imagine the texture of skirt fabric rubbing against tiny feet, the sweet smell of grass, or the delight of looking at a resplendent blue shirt.  Sensory experiences are a vital part of who we are; they are building blocks of a growing brain.  Countless occurrences, like the intimate play we see in Cassatt’s print, help shape the contours of pliant neural networks.  The child may not remember this exact moment, the feel of the woman’s secure grasp, the pleasure of gazing in her eyes, or the sound of her breath.  Nevertheless, they have left their imprint on a blossoming mind. 

Image Information: Mary Cassatt, American (1844–1926). Under the Horse Chestnut Tree, 1895. Drypoint and aquatint printed in blue, green, yellow, brown and flesh on paper. Sheet: 18 13/16 x 14 3/8 in.; 47.7838 x 36.5125 cm; plate: 16 1/8 x 11 3/8 in.; 40.9575 x 28.8925 cm. Bequest of Helen Haase

Mary Cassatt. American, 1844–1926

Under the Horse Chestnut Tree, c. 1895

Drypoint and aquatint printed in blue, green, yellow, brown and flesh on off white laid paper

Gift of Selma Erving, class of 1927

ID Number: SC 1972:50-8