NEW YORK — The New York Public Library’s archive is so massive that some of the material has never been seen except on request.
Now, the library is presenting a selection of those hidden gems, a group of works showcasing the extraordinary printmaking skills of American impressionist artist Mary Cassatt.
“Daring Methods: The Prints of Mary Cassatt” includes 88 prints donated to the library in 1900 by Samuel Putnam Avery, a Manhattan art dealer who developed a close working relationship with the artist.
It is the first time that the 30 color prints and 58 monochromes, created between 1878 and 1898, are being shown as a group at the New York Public Library.
Born to a wealthy Pennsylvania family, Cassatt was the lone woman and only American among the French impressionists in the late 1800s. Her paintings are celebrated for her tender depictions of mothers and children in domestic settings. She died in 1926, the last 11 years nearly in darkness as her eyesight failed.
Her prints are less sentimental and more incisive than her paintings, said Anne Higonnet, professor of art history at Barnard College and Columbia University and author on different aspects of impressionism.
Her print imagery still deals with childhood and motherhood, but she also tackles subject matter not found in her paintings: woman performing their daily routines and toilettes.
The exhibition runs through June 23.