The Child’s Bath
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This American-born painter lived much of her adult life in France where she befriended and exhibited with the Impressionists. This piece has a thicker, tighter application of paint that Impressionist sketches. The skin, fabric, carpet and jug are finished with much finer detail than her more typically Impressionist works (in which the paint is applied in visible strokes which often sacrifice detail). Cassatt saw a large exhibition of Japanese prints at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1890 and produced a series of prints influenced by their aesthetics. The Child’s Bath is the culmination of her investigation of a flattened picture plane and decorative patterning, while addressing the them for which she is best known—women and children. The intimate scene of everyday life also echoes the subject of many Japanese prints. The encircling arms and gentle touch of the mother or nurse communicate an overall feeling of protection and tenderness.