Lady at the Tea Table
Cassatt's formidable image of her mother's first cousin, Mary Dickinson Riddle, presiding at tea, a daily ritual among upper-middle-class women, is imbued with the spirit of authoritative conspicuous consumption. Mrs. Riddle holds a teapot, part of a gilded blue-and-white Canton porcelain service that her daughter had presented to Cassatt's family. In response to the gift, Cassatt painted the portrait, which demonstrates her mastery of Impressionism in the rapid brushwork and sketch like finish, the casual handling of anatomy (notably Mrs. Riddle's ring-laden hand), and the sitter's indifference to the viewer. Mary Stevenson Cassatt (May 22, 1844 – June 14, 1926) was an American painter and printmaker.