A light, lively palette is characteristic of the work of Mary Cassatt, an American painter who introduced art lovers and collectors on the other side of the Atlantic to Impressionism. A great friend of Degas, she took part in the exhibitions of the Impressionist group from 1879.
Portraits of her close friends and family, often women and children shown in the privacy of their everyday lives, are common in her work. Girl in the Garden also called Woman Sewing is a typical example, except for its outdoor setting. The painting was exhibited during the group's last exhibition in 1886.
The richly coloured background is structured by a path, a broad diagonal stripe which gives the painting depth. It sets off the monumental figure of a young woman, in the near foreground. The rapid, sketchy treatment of the skirt contrasts with the clear, firm outline of the face and bust, which shows that the artist still cared about precise drawing.