Cover for WEBSTER: Eve's Daughter/Modern Woman: A Mural by Mary Cassatt. Click for larger image

Eve's Daughter/Modern Woman

A Mural by Mary Cassatt

The first in-depth study of Mary Cassatt's lost mural Modern Woman

Often regarded as merely the creator of sentimental images of mothers and children or an expatriate heavily influenced by Impressionism, Mary Cassatt is not typically regarded as an artist of radical convictions. In Eve's Daughter/Modern Woman, Sally Webster reevaluates these dismissals with a historical, aesthetic, and symbolist analysis of Cassatt's unique venture into the male-dominated realm of large-scale mural painting, Modern Woman.

Commissioned for the Woman's Building at Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, Modern Woman also stood as a personal and professional manifesto. This book undertakes a complete overview of Cassatt's mural, synthesizing a wide variety of interpretations and original observations to present the first complete treatment of the work. Webster connects the symbolism of the painting to Cassatt's life as a woman artist and a member of the Parisian avant-garde, and to the history of woman's emancipation. She ends with a detective story as she joins the hunt to unravel the mystery of the now-missing mural, last known to be in the possession of Mrs. Potter Palmer (of Chicago's Palmer House family).


"A compellingly feminist, solidly art-historical, and satisfyingly contextual reading of Mary Cassatt's monumental mural . . . . In unraveling the mural's sources, linking it to feminist activism and other reformist currents, and viewing it in relation to the artist's own life story and struggle, Webster restores the work to the important place it deserves as the fiercely independent artist's most public, political, and (in its coded fashion) most personal expression."--Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide

"A lively art history detective story that makes a missing painting come alive."--Bloomsbury Review

"A long lost mural by Cassatt is brought to light in this informative, small-format book. . . . Recommended."--Choice


Sally Webster, professor of American art at Lehman College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, is the author of William Morris Hunt, and the coeditor of Critical Issues in Public Art.

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