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In the Loge

Mary Cassatt1878

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

In the late 1870s, when she first exhibited with the Impressionists, Cassatt painted several images of the theater, a popular entertainment in Paris. Unlike her friend Edgar Degas, Cassatt focused on the spectators rather than the performers, exposing the dramas in the audience. In the Loge explores the act of looking: a distant man (at right) watches the woman in black who stares through her opera glasses at another spectator. This series of glances evokes Cassatt's own studious observation as she produced the picture. Despite the man's intense gaze, the woman in black is not merely an object of his desire. Her own actions emphasize her independence and reflect the increasing social freedom accorded modern women.

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