The Child's Bath

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The Child's Bath
Mary Cassatt - The Child's Bath - Google Art Project.jpg
ArtistMary Cassatt
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions100.3 cm × 66.1 cm (39.5 in × 26 in)
LocationArt Institute of Chicago, Chicago

The Child's Bath (or The Bath) is an 1893 oil painting by American artist Mary Cassatt. The subject matter and the overhead perspective were inspired by Japanese woodblocks.[1][2] It shows dignity in motherhood and has a style similar to that of Degas.

The Art Institute of Chicago acquired the piece in 1910. It has since become one of the most popular pieces in the museum.[3]


In 1891, Mary Cassatt created the oil painting with two subjects, a mother figure and a young child. The genre scene is based on the everyday bathing of a child, a moment that is "special by not being special".[4] The female figure holds up the child firmly and protectively with her left hand while the other hand carefully washes the child’s feet. The small and chubby left arm of the child braces against the mother’s thigh, while the other hand is clamped firmly on the child’s own thigh. The mother’s right hand presses firmly but still gently on the foot in the basin, mimicking the child’s own pressure on her thigh. To indicate depth, Cassatt painted the faces to recede into space. The paint strokes are layered and rough, creating thick lines that outline the figures and stand them out from the patterned background. The hand of the artist is evident through the roughness of the strokes and can be better viewed from a distance.


Cassatt was heavily influenced by her fellow Impressionist peers, especially Edgar Degas. The first Impressionist painting to make it back to the United States was a pastel by Degas in 1875 that she purchased. Cassatt began to exhibit with the Impressionists in 1877, where she met other fellow Impressionists like Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot. In 1890, she was struck by the prints of the Japanese woodcuts at the Beaux-Arts Academy in Paris during the exhibition, three years prior to painting The Child's Bath. Cassatt was drawn to the simplicity and clarity of the Japanese design, and the skillful use of blocks of color. The perspective of the painting was inspired by Japanese prints and Degas. "Japanese printmakers were more interested in decorative impact than precise perspective."[5]


  1. ^ Painting profile from the Art Institute of Chicago.
  2. ^ Art Access at the Art Institute of Chicago.
  3. ^ Lisa Stein. "The Art Institute has compiled its 'greatest hits.' We asked art experts to expand that list of 11 to include other treasures." Chicago Tribune. 18 April 2003.
  4. ^ Janes, Karen Hosack. Great Paintings. New York: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2011, 179.
  5. ^ Janes, Karen Hosack. Great Paintings. New York: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2011, pg. 180.
  • Janes, Karen Hosack. "Great Paintings". New York: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2011. ISBN 978-0-7566-8675-8. 179-180.

External links[edit]

External video
Cassatt's The Child's Bath, Smarthistory[1]
  1. ^ "Cassatt's The Child's Bath". Smarthistory at Khan Academy. Retrieved March 13, 2013.