The only American artist to exhibit her work with the French Impressionists, Mary Cassatt was first invited to show with the group by Edgar Degas in 1877. By that time, she had become disenchanted with traditional academic painting. Like her friend Degas, Cassatt concentrated on the human figure in her Impressionist works, particularly on sensitive yet unsentimental portrayals of women and children. “The Child’s Bath,” with its striking and unorthodox composition, is one of Cassatt’s masterworks. In it she employed unconventional devices such as cropped forms, bold patterns and outlines, and a flattened perspective, all of which derived from her study of Japanese woodblock prints. The lively patterns play off one another and serve to accentuate the nakedness of the child, whose vulnerable white legs are as straight as the lines of the woman’s striped dress. The elevated vantage point permits the viewer to observe, but not participate in, this most intimate scene. Cassatt’s composition thereby reinforces her subject: the tender absorption of a woman with a child.