Little Girl in a Blue Armchair/ Mary Cassatt / 1878/oil on canvas/ National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Little Girl in a Blue Armchair stands as a testament to the newly formed relationship between Mary Cassatt and the impressionists, and to her assimilation of a freer style of painting. With a limited palette and vibrant brushstroke, she created a dynamic interplay of forms that is echoed in this captured moment between rest and play.
Light enters the picture through the French doors in the background and enlivens the texture and pattern of the inanimate objects in the room. The tilted picture plane draws attention to the haphazard arrangement of the four large, blue chairs, and the brownish-gray floor in between them is painted with an energetic brushwork that gives it a life of its own. In contrast, the little girl—flopped on a chair in a moment of boredom or exhaustion—and the small dog are in a state of utter repose.
Cassatt reworked the painting with the help of her friend Edgar Degas and exhibited it along with 10 other paintings in her debut exhibition with the impressionists in 1879.