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Courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Robert LaPrelle.

The Reader

Artist: Mary Cassatt (1844 - 1926)
Date: 1877
32 x 25 1/2 in. (81.3 x 64.8 cm)
Framed: 41 1/2 x 35 x 2 3/4 in. (105.4 x 88.9 x 7 cm)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Promised Gift to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas
Signed: l.l. and l.r.: M S Cassatt / 1877
On View
Label TextBorn to a wealthy Pittsburgh family, Mary Cassatt spent most of her life in France, where she became the only American to exhibit with the Impressionists. The young woman in The Reader does not engage the viewer; rather, she is absorbed in her book, its bent cover suggesting that it is a favorite. Reading had both positive and negative connotations for nineteenth-century women. While reading signified the privileges of literacy and abundant leisure time enjoyed by Cassatt and her social class, some considered it a frivolous pursuit.