MARY CASSATT (1844-1926)
Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to Right
signed ‘M. Cassatt’ (lower left)
pastel, gouache, watercolor and charcoal with metallic paint on paper
25 1/4 x 19 7/8 in. (64.1 x 50.5 cm.)
Executed circa 1878-79
The artist.
Paul and Mette Gauguin, Paris and Copenhagen, acquired from the above, by 1884.
Edvard Brandes, Copenhagen, Denmark, brother-in-law of the above, acquired from the above, by 1911.
Dr. Alfred Gold, Berlin, Germany, acquired from the above, 1928.
Elizabeth Paine Card, Fairhaven, Massachusetts, acquired from the above, circa 1930-35.
Private collection, New England, by descent from the above.
Estate of the above.
Sotheby's, New York, 10 November 1992, lot 7, sold by the above.
Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty from the above.
(Probably) Bachaumont, “Notes parisiennes,” Le sportsman, April 12, 1879.
(Probably) A. Silvestre, “Les expositions: Des Indépendants,” Lestafette, April 16, 1879.
(Probably) A. Silvestre, “Le Monde des arts: Les Indépendants—Les Aquarellists,” Vie moderne, April 24, 1879, p. 38 (as Figure d'avant-scène (no. 54)).
(Probably) H. Havard, "L'exposition des artistes indépendants," Le siècle, April 27, 1879.
K. Madsen, Copenhagen Politiken, November 9, 1889, pp. 224, 226-27, illustrated (as Femme à l'éventail and Portrait of a Young Lady).
L. Venturi, Les archives de lImpressionnisme, vol. 2, Paris, 1939, p. 125.
M. Malingue, ed., Lettres de Gauguin à sa femme et à ses amis, Paris, 1946, p. 75.
M. Bodelsen, “Gauguin’s Cézannes,” The Burlington Magazine, vol. 104, no. 710, May 1962, pp. 205, fig. 38, 207 (as Jeune fille à l’éventail).
M. Bodelsen, “Gauguin Studies,” The Burlington Magazine, vol. 109, no. 769, April 1967, pp. 224, 226-27, fig. 69, illustrated (as Femme à lEventail).
M. Bodelsen, “Gauguin, the Collector,” The Burlington Magazine, vol. 112, no. 810, September 1970, pp. 593, 602, 604-05, no. 3 (as Femme à l’éventail).
A.D. Breeskin, Mary Cassatt: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oils, Pastels, Watercolors, and Drawings, Washington, D.C., 1970, p. 54, no. 72, illustrated.
S.B. Conpoy, “50 Years Tracking Down Mary Cassatt,” Washington Daily News, October 2, 1970, p. 21.
(Probably) S. Monneret, L'Impressionnisme et son époque, Paris, 1978, pp. 112, 227 (as Jeune fille à léventail).
L.S. Richards, “Mary Cassatt’s Drawing of The Visitor,” Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, vol. 65, October 1978, p. 275.
(Probably) S. Monneret, L'Impressionnisme et son époque, Paris, 1980, p. 151 (as Au théâtre).
G. Pollock, Mary Cassatt, New York, 1980, pp. 28, 82 (as Woman in a Loge with a Fan).
V. Merlhès, ed., Corrsepondance de Paul Gauguin, Paris, 1984, p. 118.
(Possibly) R. Pickvance, “Contemporary Popularity and Posthumous Neglect,” The New Painting: Impressionism 1874-1886, exhibition catalogue, San Francisco, California, 1986, pp. 264n77-78, 267 (as Jeune femme au théâtre).
J. Tully, “Auction,” Washington Post, November 11, 1992 (as Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to the Right).
C. Vogel, “Museum in Texas Buys a Matisse for $11 Million,” The New York Times, November 11, 1992, p. C15.
S. Snow, “Matisse the Hot Ticket in N.Y. Auctions,” Los Angeles Times, November 13, 1992 (as Young Lady in a Loge).
S. Melikian, “Art Market Finds Some Stability—at a Much Lower Level,” International Herald Tribune, November 14-15, 1992, p. 7.
J. Tully, “Impressionist and Modern Art,” Art & Auction, vol. 15, January 1993, p. 90.
C. Wood, The Great Art Boom, 1970-1997, Surrey, England, 1997, p. 70.
G. Pollock, Mary Cassatt, New Yotk, 1998, pp. 129, 146-47, 149, illustrated (as Woman in a Loge with a Fan Gazing Right).
L.R. Prieto, At Home in Studio: The Professionalization of Women Artists in America, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2001, p. 88.
C.M. Jennings, “Paintings and the Nuanced Gaze: Studies in the Application, Complication, and Limitations of Psychoanalytic Gaze Theory,” Ph.D. dissertation, Texas Tech University, 2001, pp. v, viii, 264, 268-71, 277, 279, 281, 283, 288, 291-92, 309, 333n9, 334n103, 339, fig. 4.5, illustrated (as At the Theater (Au théâter)).
D. Wildenstein, Gauguin: Premier itinéraire dun sauvage, vol. 2, Paris, 2001, p. 65, illustrated (as Jeune fille dans une loge).
R.R. Brettell, A.-B. Fonsmark, Gauguin and Impressionism, Fort Worth, Texas, 2005, p. 346, no. 3 (as Woman with a Fan).
K. Hvidt, Edvard Brandes: Portræt af en radikal blæksprutte, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2005, p. 250 (as Jeune femme à l’éventaille).
K. Brugnara, Four Women Impressionists in Paris, San Francisco, California, 2008, pp. 20-22, illustrated.
“Upcoming Exhibitions: Women Impressionists,” Fine Arts, San Francisco, California, Summer 2008, p. 11, back cover illustration.
D.D. Saeks, “Getty Glamour,” Harpers Bazaar, October 2012, p. 282, illustrated.
A. Higonnet, “In the fan club,” Apollo, September 2014, pp. 124-25, fig. 1, illustrated (as At the Theater).
K. Rosenberg, “Friendship Was Their Medium,” The New York Times, May 29, 2014, p. C21 (as At the Theater).
Paris, 28 avenue de l’Opera, Quatrième Exposition de peinture, April 10-May 29, 1879, (probably) no. 54 (as Au théàtre).
Copenhagen, Kunstforeningen, Scandinavian and French Impressionists, October 30-November 11, 1889.
Berlin, Germany, Dr. Alfred Gold’s Gallery, French Impressionists, April 1928.
Berlin, Germany, Dr. Alfred Gold’s Gallery, French Impressionists, Old Masters: 35 Paintings Selected from Exhibitions at Dr. Alfred Golds Gallery, 1930, illustrated (as Young Lady in a Theatre).
Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, 1968, on loan.
Chicago, Illinois, Art Institute of Chicago; Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts; Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman, October 10, 1998-May 19, 1999, pp. 51, 112, 213-14, 246, 318, no. 19, figs. 2-3, illustrated (as At the Theater).
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. 142, 310, illustrated.
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Degas/Cassatt, May 11-October 5, 2014, pp. 9, 30, 122, 153, pl. 9, illustrated (as At the Theater).
Further details
This work is included as no. 63 in the Cassatt Committee's revision of Adelyn Dohme Breeskin's catalogue raisonné of the works of Mary Cassatt.
Sale room notice
Please note that this work has been requested for the forthcoming exhibition, Impressionists on Paper: Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec at the Royal Academy of Arts in London from 25 November 2023 to 10 March 2024.

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Elizabeth Seigel
Elizabeth Seigel Vice President, Specialist, Head of Private and Iconic Collections

Lot Essay

The only American artist to exhibit with the French Impressionists, Mary Cassatt’s extraordinary works of the late 1870s transformed the popular Impressionist concentration on modern Parisian life through her unique insight as a female expatriate. Dating from this most important period of her career, Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to Right is a masterwork belonging to a limited series of Cassatt works focusing on the elegant society within the audience of a late nineteenth-century theater production. According to Adelyn Breeskin, there are nine works in the series, with examples in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio; and Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. As Paul Gauguin, the original owner of Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to Right, reflected after viewing another painting in the series, “Mlle Cassatt has as much charm, but she has more power” than her female contemporaries (as quoted in The Queen Bees: The Women Who Shaped America, New York, 1979, p. 117). It is this exceptional combination of beautiful execution and eloquent perspective in Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to Right that established Cassatt’s status as an art historical icon and has compelled audiences since the work’s likely debut at the 1879 Impressionist exhibition.
Cassatt set sail for France in 1866, following studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and was granted quick acceptance into Parisian art circles. Bolstered by her first public success at the Salon of 1868, she settled in Paris and continued to exhibit at the Academy, though her style became increasingly less conventional as she developed a more progressive, painterly technique. Her innovative work captured the eye of Edgar Degas, who invited her to exhibit with the Impressionists, and to join the group in forging a new mode of painting. Cassatt enthusiastically received Degas' invitation; "I accepted with joy," she wrote, "At last I was able to work with an absolute independence without thinking about the opinion of a jury. Already I knew who were my true masters! I admired Manet, Courbet and Degas. I hated conventional art. I began to live" (as quoted in M.R. Witzling, Mary Cassatt: A Private World, Washington, D.C., 1991, p. 11).
Indeed, in her career-making works of the 1870s, Cassatt explores a similar focus on daily life, and more specifically the cultural center of the theater, as in Degas’ dancer paintings and Renoir’s famed La Loge (Theater Box) of 1874 (The Courtald Gallery, London). Belle Époque Parisian society was experiencing momentous change in terms of social mobility and modern leisure activities, and the theater—which was selling 200,000 tickets a week—provided a perfect platform for artists to capture the societal behaviors of the middle and upper classes in the capital. Yet, unlike Degas, Cassatt focused solely on the performance within the audience rather than on stage; and unlike Renoir, Cassatt brings a female perspective rather than a male gaze when capturing the nuanced fashions and stances of her subjects. “Unlike Degas’s scrutiny of the performers–singers, dancers, musicians–Cassatt’s focus is the audience. Her interest is almost entirely in the romance suggested by beautifully dressed young women watching and being watched, playing with their fans and bouquets, acting out their real-life dramas” (N.M. Mathews, Mary Cassatt: A Life, New York, 1994, p. 145).
In Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to Right, Cassatt finds an understated sophistication and compelling psychological subject in a beautiful young woman seated in her theater box, depicted in isolation on her balcony even amidst the implied crowds of the societal spectacle. With her gaze directed off to the side, Cassatt baits the viewer’s curiosity about what unseen subject on the stage or in the seats is drawing her attention away. The decorative fan spanning the lower register of the scene adds to the ambiguity, highlighting the beauty of its wielder but also purposely obscuring our view of her. As in The Loge (circa 1878-80, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), the fan becomes as much a shield from social expectations as it is a status symbol.
Cassatt further complicates our understanding of her subject through her use of the mirror at the back of the loge. As Manet would subsequently employ in his iconic A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882, The Courtald Gallery, London), here the mirror reveals more about the setting while also manifesting a feeling of spatial and psychological confusion. Blurring the line between reality and illusion, the reflection captures the chandelier and balconies of the Paris Opéra as well as the back of the young woman’s dress and hair; however, the additional visual information confuses even as it elucidates. Amanda T. Zehnder explains, “The mirror challenges the viewer’s perception of a scene and provides only a mediated access to the theater space. The flatness of the picture plane and of the mirror is a reminder that the view of the scene is indirect and in a compressed space” (“Forty Years of Artistic Exchange,” Degas/Cassatt, exhibition catalogue, Washington, D.C., 2014, p. 11). The vertical black line at the left of the composition, seeming to mark the end of the mirror and dividing the figure from her neighbors, further emphasizes our incomplete viewpoint, even while calling attention to Cassatt’s own signature and hand.
The imperfect, blurred reflection of the mirror also underscores Cassatt’s modern sense of design and technique, placing the delicate, blushing profile of her subject against the brilliant green and yellow geometric architecture of the theater. Creating a sense of movement, as in A Woman in Black at the Opera (1880, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts), “Cassatt’s ability to translate reality into abstract shapes saves her depiction of the life around her from the stultifying detail that trapped so many of her contemporaries in the realist movement. Perhaps inspired by the linear spatial constructions of Japanese prints, Cassatt dared to integrate foreground and background with her continuous line at the risk of flattening the composition” (Mary Cassatt, p. 48). Furthermore, in Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to Right, she experiments with applying pastel, gouache and hints of metallic pigment in varying, gestural strokes to add a sense of vibrancy and glinting light to her depiction of her static subject. While finely applied marks delineate the face and expensive accessories, the rest of the audience fades away to become just a dazzling impression.
With her investigation of private versus public behavior, and juxtaposition of intimate detail with abstracted atmosphere, Cassatt’s formative theater pictures, including the present work, are considered her first forays into a purely Impressionist style and established the foundation upon which her long and distinguished career was built. These works have garnered distinct praise since their first exhibitions, with one contemporary reviewer remarking, "M. Degas and Mlle. Cassatt are perhaps the only artists who distinguish themselves in this group of 'dependent' Independents, and who give the only attractiveness and excuse to this pretentious display…Both have a lively sense of the fragmented lighting in Paris interiors; both find unique nuances of color to render the flesh tints of women fatigued by late nights and the rustling lightness of worldly fashions" ("Les Expositions d'Art," Revue des deux Mondes, May-June 1879, p. 481). Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to Right 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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