It would seem that at the end of the nineteenth century it was difficult to introduce something new into a woman’s portrait. Women wrote everything – starting with the most “double” academicians and ending with zealous modernists. But the female portraits of Cassatt are still somewhat different from the portraits of other artists – including the Impressionists.
In art history literature you can find about this: “The artist saw her characters in her soul.” But you can not say that other painters did not see in their models a soul, a character, or an individuality.
That’s why she was able to bring into the woman’s portrait a completely unfamiliar intonation. The works presented here – “The Lady at the Tea Table”, 1883-85, “The Explanation” and “The Portrait of Celeste in the Straw Hat”, 1891 – are interesting precisely with this particular intonation, a vocation that no one else had.