The Boating Party

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The Boating Party
Mary Cassatt - The Boating Party - Google Art Project.jpg
ArtistMary Cassatt
Year1893 (1893)
Mediumoil on canvas
MovementPost Impressionism
Dimensions90 cm × 117.3 cm (46 3/16 in × 35 7/16 in)
LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

The Boating Party is an 1893 oil painting by American artist Mary Cassatt. It has been in the collection of the National Gallery of Art since 1963.[1][2]

Cassatt painted The Boating Party during the winter of 1893–1894 in Antibes, on the French Riviera. Cassatt spent January and February 1894 at the Villa "La Cigaronne," in Cap d'Antibes with her mother.[3][4] Cassatt was 49 years old when she painted The Boating Party.[5] 1893 had been a successful year for her: she had completed the mural Modern Woman, commissioned for the Woman's Building at Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition; her exhibition in 1893 at Durand-Ruel's gallery had been well received[5] (footnote: the exhibition contained 98 items.[6]); and the French state had decided to purchase one of her paintings for the Musée du Luxembourg.[7]


The Boating Party depicts an unknown woman, baby, and man in a sailboat.[8] The boat has a canoe stern, is boomless, and has three thwarts. The inside of the boat is described as yellow. It is an unusual painting in Cassatt's œuvre. While it does show her familiar theme of a mother and child, most of her other paintings are set in interiors or in gardens.[9] It is also one of her largest oil paintings.[10]


Japanese woodblock prints[edit]

In 1890 Cassatt visited the great Japanese Print exhibition at the ecole de Beaux-arts in Paris.[6][11] Mary Cassatt owned Japanese prints by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753–1806).[12][13] The exhibition at Durand-Ruel of Japanese art proved the most important influence on Cassatt.[14]


Frederick A. Sweet suggests that Cassatt may have been inspired by Édouard Manet's Boating from 1874.[15]

Boating, 1874, Edouard Manet

Boating was exhibited at the (fourth?) Impressionist Exhibition of 1879, where it was not well received. Cassatt however, convinced her friend Louisine Havemeyer to buy it.[9] Much of the work from the Havemeyer collection was bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum, but some works were left to the Havemeyer children and have since ended up elsewhere.[16]


Art historian and museum administrator Frederick A. Sweet calls it "One of the most ambitious paintings she ever attempted".[17] His 1966 analysis focusses on the balance of the "powerful dark silhouette of the boatman", the angle between the oar and the arm that "thrusts powerfully into the centre of the composition towards the mother and child" and "delicate, feminine ones".

Cassatt placed the horizon at the top of the frame in Japanese fashion.[1]


In 1966, the painting appeared on a US postage stamp.


  • 1918 Durand-Ruel, New York
  • October 1, 1929 sold to Chester Dale.
  • 1963 National Gallery of Art.[18]

colorplate 75 35 7/16x46 1/8 in. (90 x117 cm) The Chester Dale Collection.[19]


  1. ^ a b "MARY CASSATT [1844 –1926] : The Boating Party, 1893/1894" (PDF). Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  2. ^ Mary Cassatt. "The Boating Party". Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  3. ^ Mowll 1996, p. 16.
  4. ^ Mowll 1996, p. 207.
  5. ^ a b Carson, Julia Margaret (Hicks) (1966-01-01). Mary Cassatt. New York: D. McKay Co. OCLC 648035.
  6. ^ a b Cassatt, Mary; Museum of Graphic Art; Cincinnati Art Museum (1967-01-01). The graphic art of Mary Cassatt. New York: Museum of Graphic Art.
  7. ^ The American Magazine. Crowell-Collier Publishing Company. 1893-01-01.
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2017-04-19.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ a b Neilson, Winthrop; Neilson, Frances Fullerton (1968-01-01). Seven women: great painters. Philadelphia: Chilton Book Co. OCLC 452127.
  10. ^ Love, Richard H (1980-01-01). Cassatt, the independent. Chicago: R.H. Love. OCLC 7571792.
  11. ^ Sweet 1989, p. 137-138.
  12. ^ "Aestheticism and Japan: The Cult of the Orient". Guggenheim. 2010-09-08. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  13. ^ Julia Meech-Pekarik. "Early Collectors of Japanese Prints and The Metropolitan Museulm of Art" (PDF). Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  14. ^ Cassatt, Mary; Rosen, Marc; Pinsky, Susan; Adelson, Warren (2000-01-01). Mary Cassatt: prints and drawings from the artist's studio : [November 10 to December 29, 2000. Princeton (NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 069108887X. OCLC 434365257.
  15. ^ Sweet gives 1879 as the date for the Manet. Quote: The idea was perhaps suggested by Manet's "In the boat," of 1879, although the composition is an entirely different.
  16. ^ Kimmelman, Michael (1993-03-26). "Review/Art; Havemeyer Collection: Magic at the Met Museum". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
  17. ^ Sweet, Frederick A (1989-01-01). Miss Mary Cassatt: impressionist from Pennsylvania. UMI. ISBN 0317100335. OCLC 59848575.
  18. ^ Mowll 1996, p. 241.
  19. ^ Cassatt, Mary; Mathews, Nancy Mowll (1996-01-01). Cassatt, a retrospective. Hong Kong: Beaux Arts Editions. ISBN 0883633647. OCLC 45381148.

External links[edit]