After the Bath

A work made of color aquatint and drypoint from two plates on ivory laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of color aquatint and drypoint from two plates on ivory laid paper.

Artist:

Mary Cassatt (American, 1844-1926)
printed by Leroy (French, active 1876-1900)

About this artwork

Mothers and children were popular visual subjects long before the 19th century; it wasn’t until after the Enlightenment, however, that images of maternal undress were accepted in contexts other than the representation of Christian subjects. Beginning with the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and other Enlightenment-era thinkers, people began to view childhood as a treasured moment in human development rather than a mere step to productive adulthood. As a result, children were increasingly seen as carefree, innocent, and deserving of protection. Their nudity in art was a commonly used symbol of natural purity and vulnerability.

As views of childhood changed, so did ideas about the roles of mothers. Women of the upper class were encouraged to be more active in the daily lives of their children, and works in this gallery illustrate such activities as bathing, nursing, and soothing. The common use of wet nurses was increasingly discouraged, not only by male philosophers and medical doctors, but also by an emerging feminist movement. As with today’s breastfeeding advocacy, mothers in the 19th century were taught the benefits of nursing, both in terms of public health but also as a means of fostering healthy emotional and physical bonds with their children. Works in this gallery by Mary Cassatt, Lovis Corinth, Helen Hyde, and Édouard Jean Vuillard, among others, celebrate tender interactions between mothers and their young children.

Currently Off View

Prints and Drawings

Artist

Mary Cassatt

Title

After the Bath

Origin

United States

Date

1890–1891

Medium

Color aquatint and drypoint from two plates on ivory laid paper

Dimensions

346 x 288 mm (image/plate); 433 x 301 mm (sheet)

Credit Line

Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection

Reference Number

1932.1286

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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