Like many fashionable Parisians, Cassatt collected Japanese color woodblock prints by artists such as Utamaro. These prints often depicted images from the world of entertainment, particularly well-known geishas, courtesans, and prostitutes. Cassatt adopted the voyeuristic glimpse into the private lives of women common in Japan; however, she presented prosaic scenes such as bathing and dressing (see lot 3). Cassatt also adopted the Japanese aesthetic of flat, boldly-colored patterns and diminished perspective.
The present impression of La Toilette is of exceptional quality. Cassatt's working method was to treat her color prints as unique works of art and this example displays a broader-than-usual range of color which was printed with great skill. The rich blue background and the delicate skin tone contrast larger blocks of color, while the stripes of the dress and the delicately applied coloring of the carpet enhance carefully composed details. This impression is one of the outstanding examples of Impressionist printmaking. It is no doubt for this reason that an impression of La Toilette set the record for a Cassat print when it was last offered at auction.