The dream of Cassatt to visit Spain was realized in 1872. Impressions from the trip were abundant, their positive impact on the artist’s work is noticeable on a series of paintings related to the Spanish theme.
The desire to visit this country arose from her, most likely, after acquaintance in 1867 with the work of Manet, the adherent of everything connected with Spain, and most of Europe at that time was under the charm of all Spanish. Thanks to the exhibition of paintings by Manet, Cassatt realized that she could use in her work the experience of famous artists of the past. To the style of Manet, clearly distinguished by modernism, she harmoniously “mixed” the Courbet line, with its realism, filled with romantic motives. Plots of paintings of the Spanish theme, she chose, mostly traditional.
The work, vividly illustrating the artistic manner of Cassatt of this period, is called “The Spanish dancer in a lacy mantilla.” The artist observes a certain restraint in detail, without overloading their ethnographic component. The composition turned out to be “circumcised”, due to which all attention is paid to the gesture of the heroine, as well as to her penetrating, “catching” gaze. Already there are the first shoots, signaling that the Impressionist style is not far off: color, paired with lighting.
Restraint, which Cassatt has shown here in detail, will eventually become one of the distinguishing features of her work.