Beginning in the 1880s, Mary Cassatt began to investigate themes of mothers and children. This intensely intimate, tightly cropped scene alternates between areas of closely observed naturalism and sketchy, abstracted passages. Cassatt's spatial experimentation, interest in contemporary subject matter, and extraordinary facility with the medium of pastel, led to her being invited to exhibit with the impressionists beginning in 1879.
Cassatt had a tremendous impact upon the development of modern art in both France and America. She tirelessly promoted cutting-edge painting to wealthy American patrons, who made purchases largely on her recommendation. Many of these collections now form the nuclei of the great treasure troves of impressionist art in U.S. museums.