Mary Cassatt was the only American, and one of only three women, to exhibit with the Impressionists. Early in her career, Cassatt thought of herself primarily as a painter, dismissing printmaking as reproductive and mechanical, but she later realized that prints provided a locus for experimentation and variation.
Working first in black and white, Cassatt began incorporating color into her prints after viewing the 1890 exhibition of Japanese ukiyo-e prints at the école des Beaux-Arts. No other artist succeeded in adapting the spirit of the Japanese color woodcut to the Western medium of etching as effectively as Cassatt. In Under the Horse-Chestnut Tree, the combination of drypoint and aquatint shows remarkable juxtapositions of thin graphic lines and solid blocks of watery color. She underscores the stylistic idiom of Japonisme with flattened modeling, bold outlines, and an oblique use of perspective.