Cassatt frequently turned to the theme of the opera in 1879 and 1880, her first years with the Impressionists. These were the works that first established her reputation as an artist.
Possibly inspired by Degas's investigation of the effects of theatrical light in his ballet imagery,1 Cassatt likewise explored a wide range of mood, lighting, and shadow in several works on the opera in pastel, oil, and etching (see also lots 10 and 11).
In Lady in Black, in a Loge, Facing Right, Cassatt evokes a subtle and atmospheric scene in which the subject is enraptured by the spectacle before her. The oil painting In the Box/s2-- one of five works she submitted to the 1879 Impressionist exhibition (her debut with the group) -- was likely a springboard for several etchings that followed, the present lot among them.
1. Barbara Ehrlich White, Impressionists Side by Side: Their Friendships, Rivalries, and Artistic Exchanges, New York: Knopf, 1996, p. 192.
2. Christie's, New York, sale 8408, lot 70