In Our Backyard

Rare Impressionist masterpiece travels to Texas for limited engagement

Rare Impressionist masterpiece travels to Texas for limited engagement

Mary Cassatt The Cup of Tea cropped
The Cup of Tea is on loan from the Met in New York. Photo courtesy of the McNay Art Museum
Mary Cassatt The Cup of Tea
Depicted in The Cup of Tea is Cassatt's sister Lydia. Photo courtesy of the McNay Art Museum
McNay Art Museum
The McNay is showing its collection of Cassatt aquavits, too. Photo courtesy of McNay Art Museum
Mary Cassatt The Cup of Tea cropped
Mary Cassatt The Cup of Tea
McNay Art Museum

This fall, art lovers across Texas can see Mary Cassatt's masterpiece The Cup of Tea during a very limited engagement at the McNay Art Museum. The painting, considered one of the cornerstone works of Impressionism, is on loan to the San Antonio museum from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. 

The instantly recognizable The Cup of Tea is a quintessential example of Cassatt's trademark style. The painting, featuring a woman — specifically Cassatt's sister Lydia — dressed in pink and enjoying a cup of tea, made the artist a critical darling when it was first revealed during a Parisian exhibition in 1881.

That painting, along with The Boating Party, Child in a Straw Hat, and Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, officially cemented Cassatt's status as the only American — and one of the only women — working within the Impressionist movement. 

“What makes Cassatt’s work compelling is how she elevates what could be dismissed as mundane subject matter through her masterful approach to color and composition,” explains Heather Lammers, McNay collections manager and curator, in a November 5 release. “Her innovations of visible brush strokes and emphasis on the changing qualities of light bring a level of sensitivity and beauty to depictions of everyday social scenes.”

The piece is on loan from the Met for three months, and will be displayed as part of "Mary Cassatt’s Women," the McNay's current exhibition. Attendees to "Women" can view The Cup of Tea alongside Cassatt aquatints and drawings from the McNay's permanent collection. 

"Mary Cassatt’s Women" is the culmination of decades of work on behalf of the San Antonio museum to highlight women artists, organizers explain in a release. "We’re very fortunate to have been founded by a woman artist and have gender parity in our DNA,” says McNay director Richard Aste. "Thanks to [museum founder and namesake] Marion Koogler McNay, our collection begins with the art of Impressionists Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, and Mary Cassatt. This focused exhibition is a fitting tribute to her legacy.”

The Cup of Tea and "Mary Cassatt's Women" is on display now through February 9, 2020, during regular museum hours. Entry to the McNay is free for members, $20 for adults, $10 for children ages 13-19, and free for children 12 and under.