MARY CASSATT (1844-1926)
A Kiss for Baby Ann (No. 3)
signed 'Mary Cassatt' (lower right)
pastel on paper
18 1/4 x 22 in. (46.4 x 55.9 cm.)
Executed in 1897
The artist.
Durand-Ruel, Paris, France, 1897.
Durand-Ruel, New York, 1898.
Elizabeth Stewart Hamilton, New York, acquired from the above, 1905.
Hamilton Hadden, nephew of the above, 1935.
Leslie Hadden Kernan, daughter of the above, circa 1950.
Estate of the above.
Sotheby's, New York, 20 May 1998, lot 20, sold by the above.
Acquired by Ann Getty from the above.
(Possibly) "The Gilder," Town Topics, vol. 50, November 12, 1903, p. 17.
G. Geffroy, "Femmes artistes: Un peintre de l'enfance, Miss Mary Cassatt," Les Modes, vol. 4, February 1904, p. 11, illustrated.
"Philadelphia Art News," American Art News, vol. 3, March 25, 1905, n.p. (as The Caress).
"Fine Exhibition Opened at Art Club: Private View Reveals Display Especially Strong in Pastels and Generally Excellent," Philadelphia Inquirer, March 19, 1905, p. 6 (as The Caress).
"The Latest News in Art Circles," Philadelphia Inquirer, March 19, 1905, p. 9, illustrated (as The Caress).
L. Merrick, "The Art of Mary Cassatt: Talent, Intelligence, Industry, and Poetic Feeling Have Placed an American Girl in the Front Rank," Delineator, vol. 74, August 2, 1909, p. 121 (as The Kiss).
G. Teall, "Mother and Child: The Theme as Developed in the Art of Mary Cassatt," Good Housekeeping, vol. 50, February 1910, p. 144, illustrated (as Mother's Kiss).
É. Valerio, Mary Cassatt, Paris, France, 1930, pl. 10, illustrated (as Le Baiser).
M. Garland, The Changing Face of Childhood, London, England, 1963, p. 33, illustrated (as Mother and Child).
M. Shulze, "Modern Madonna Painter," Hartford Courant, July 24, 1966, p. 13F, illustrated (as Mother and Child).
A.D. Breeskin, Mary Cassatt: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oils, Pastels, Watercolors, and Drawings, Washington, D.C., 1970, p. 125, no. 268, illustrated.
S.G. Lindsay, Mary Cassatt and Philadelphia, exhibition catalogue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1985, p. 91 (as The Caress or A Kiss for Baby Anne, No. 3).
A.E. Berman, "Auction Reviews: American Paintings," Art & Auction, vol. 21, September 20, 1998, p. 55 (as A Kiss for Baby Anne).
K. Sharp, Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman, exhibition catalogue, Chicago, Illinois, 1998, p. 358.
Boston, Massachusetts, St. Botolph Club, An Exhibition of Paintings, Pastels and Etchings, March 21-April 8, 1898, no. 2.
New York, Durand-Ruel, Exhibition of Paintings and Pastels by Mary Cassatt, November 5-21, 1903, no. 20.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Art Club of Philadelphia, Fourteenth Annual Exhibition of Water Colors and Pastels, March 20-April 16, 1905, no. 179, illustrated (as The Caress).
Northampton, Massachusetts, Smith College Museum of Art, 1928, no. 1.
San Francisco, California, Palace of the Legion of Honor, Women Impressionists: Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzales, Marie Braquemond, June 19-September 21, 2008, pp. 172, 310, illustrated.
Further details
This work is included as no. 247 in the Cassatt Committee's revision of Adelyn Dohme Breeskin's catalogue raisonné of the works of Mary Cassatt.

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Lot Essay

By the end of the 19th century, depictions of the simple, daily interactions between mothers and their children had become Mary Cassatt's hallmark subject. While her work in the 1870s reflected her interest in the experience of modern women in Parisian society, her emphasis began to shift in the 1880s from the public to the private areas of women's lives. Cassatt's focus on gesture, facial expression and the exchange of gazes allowed her to capture the psychological nuances that characterize family relationships, while avoiding the sentimentality and cliché that still characterized most images of maternity at the Paris Salon. Griselda Pollock writes, "[Cassatt's] figure compositions discover both the tension in, and the pleasure of, interactions between children and adults who are emotionally bonded, while being at radically different moments of psychological development and life-cycle" (Mary Cassatt, Painter of Modern Women, New York, 1998, p. 16). Rendered with both vigorous and gestural strokes in brilliant color, A Kiss for Baby Anne (No. 3) of 1897 is a striking example of Cassatt’s signature motif from one of the most important decades of her career.
?Cassatt rendered four examples in pastel of the same title and subject, one of which is in the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland. With this subject, Cassatt offers the viewer an intimate glimpse into fin-de-siècle home life. The complexions of both mother and child are effervescently warm and delicately depicted in Cassatt's characteristic vivacious palette. The child, with flushed, rosy cheeks, appears to have just run up to her mother, who tenderly places a kiss on her face. The only horizontal image, A Kiss for Baby Anne (No. 3) is arguably the most impressive within the series for its gestural execution.
?Cassatt exhibited A Kiss for Baby Anne (No. 3) in New York at Durand-Ruel in 1898—notably the first time the artist journeyed home to the United States from France in nearly twenty-five years. In preparation for her homecoming, she embarked on some of her most celebrated works, including the present work. “Cassatt had exhibited in New York frequently over the years, most recently in a large solo show in 1895, but she had not seen her art hanging there since 1871. Throughout her career, Paris had been her primary arena. Even those works that were sent to exhibitions in the United States were shown in Paris first, and for years she had been most concerned about the reception given them by the Parisian art world. But this time they would be turned over to her dealer in Paris and immediately shipped to New York. The first and only response she would get to the new work would be by Americans—and she would be there to witness it first-hand.
?“There is no question that she succeeded. ­­ The series of 1897 includes some of her best known and best-loved works—all based on an irresistible child with golden curls who has been dubbed ‘Anne.’ …The child appears in such often-reproduced icons as Patty Cake (Denver Art Museum), Breakfast in Bed (Huntington Library and Art Gallery), and Three Women Admiring a Child (Detroit Institute of Arts)…Cassatt’s choice of this child specifically for an American audience says much about how she observed American taste from her distant, expatriate perch in Paris.
?“A Kiss for Baby Anne is a subtle presentation of rich colors threaded throughout an overall muted tonality. The most brilliant and eye-catching passage is the child’s glistening cloud of hair that gives meaning to expressions like ‘spun gold.’ It is a tour de force of Cassatt’s pastel technique, which she had been perfecting in her mother and child series of the last ten years. Inspired by Degas’s masterful handling of this medium, Cassatt had taken it in her own direction. She combined tonal effects, produced by rubbing and layering, with parallel ‘hatching’ to create substance in the bodies, and completed the design with quick, sharp strokes for the details. The shining highlights of [the] child’s hair have been created with just such a complex and sensitive manipulation of the rich pastel pigments.
?“But beyond Cassatt’s proud display of technique and the sheer beauty of the overall design, the child’s blond hair served another purpose in Cassatt’s desire to win over her American audience. In this pastel, as in all the works of the 1897 series, blond-ness is essential to the overall message. Thinking of the children in her own fair-haired, Anglo-Saxon family, Cassatt seems to be striving for a child who will be instantly recognizable as ‘American’” (N.M. Mathews, 1998).
The present work was acquired by Elizabeth Steward Hamilton in 1905, who was introduced to Cassatt through her friend Louise Havemeyer. A pioneering collector, patron and suffragist, Havemeyer is largely considered to be the first American to patronize French Impressionism. The pastel also held personal importance within the Getty Collection as a beloved personal gift from Gordon to Ann, which she hung prominently in their bedroom.

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