The 1890s were the most fruitful period in Cassatt’s work. At this time, she again refers to the schedule. In the spring of 1891, the first personal exhibition of the artist was held in the gallery of Durand-Ruelle. In the center of attention was a series of 10 etchings executed in imitation of the Japanese masters Utamaro and Hirosige. Like most Europeans of the time, the artist admired Oriental art.
The most successful work of the series was “Letter”. Critics appreciated this picture. Even Camille Pissarro, who could rarely hear the words of praise, did not find in Mary’s work a single flaw, noting the amazing coloring of the artist’s paintings.
Cassatt shows us an intimate scene from everyday home life. The picture shows a young woman sitting at a table. Obviously, she had just finished writing a letter and pasting an envelope. From the main character nothing distracts, all the decorative elements are reduced only to the pattern on the dress and wallpaper. The spectator seems to be an accidental witness of what is happening.
The work is distinguished by the purity of the line and the originality of the color solution. The artist managed to realize many things by minimal means. The same fleeting moments, imprinted on picturesque canvases, in her work become even more ordinary and prosaic. Nevertheless, the heroine is interesting in its own way, beautiful and full of a sense of inner dignity.
Etching attracts attention with its compositional laconicism, subtlety and lack of use of color transitions. Performed in the artist’s inherent lyrical and calm pictorial manner, he is full of sincerity, simple human warmth and some aching sad sadness.