On a recent visit to the Metropolitan Museum Of Art, I came across Mary Cassatt's painting, Lady At The Tea Table.
I'm sure I must have seen this painting before, but this was the first time I really paid attention to it. Of course, you know what drew me in. The blue and white tea service.
The lady in the painting was Mary Dickinson Riddle, the first cousin of Cassatt's mother. The tea service was a gift from Mrs. Riddle's daughter to Mary Cassatt's family.
According to this article in the London Review of Books, Mrs. Riddle did not care for the portrait as it did not do justice to her reputation as a great beauty. Since she was a cousin of Cassatt's mother, I'm assuming she was of a certain age and perhaps did not care for being portrayed differently than she saw herself. (I totally get it :)
In any event, Mary Cassatt ended up holding on to the painting until Louisine Havemeyer, a collector and friend of Cassatt's, persuaded her to donate it to the museum in 1923.
But that's enough of Mrs. Riddle. Let's talk about this blue and white tea set! It is just fabulous. As you know, I'm always on the lookout for blue and white pieces, but I have never seen anything like this.
These are some close ups that I shot of the painting. I just love it and predictably, I have developed an obsession with getting my hands on a set like this and using it in a painting of my own. I have several blue willow pieces and could probably set something up, but I am going to attempt to find a complete blue and white tea service.
By the way, I took the two close up photos, but the photo of the entire painting is one I downloaded from the Met website. Recently, the Met made 350,000 images available for digital download with their new open access policy. This is pretty amazing and something that is really helpful to me personally. There have been many times I would have liked to discuss a work of art from the Met, but was unable to get a decent photo on my own. Now it is so easy. Just look up the work you are interested in, and if it has the "public domain" symbol underneath the photo, you can download it to your own devices and use it as you see fit. Of course, I will always link back to the artist and the Met, but I think this is a great idea. The Met has been great with allowing photos in the museum and now they have taken it to the next level.
Now that we are free to download images, I plan to talk about some of my favorite paintings from time to time. If there are any works you would like me to post about, let me know in the comments.