NCMA Recommends: Portrait of Madame X Dressed for the Matinee

Mary Cassatt, Portrait of Madame X Dressed for the Matinee, 1877—78, oil on canvas, 39 5/8 — 31 13/16 in., Gift of Charlotte Hanes in memory of her husband, R. Philip Hanes Jr., and gift of anonymous donors

No, she’s not that Madame X, but Mary Cassatt’s sitter is equally intriguing: stylish, elegant, and independent, like Cassatt herself. Both artist and sitter would have been restricted in their freedoms as women in late 19th-century Paris. But a matinee performance at the theater or opera would have been a haven for them–inspiring, perhaps, the relaxed hint of a smile on Madame X’s lips. –Jennifer Dasal, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Reading Recommendations

I Always Loved You by Robin Oliviera (2014). Mary Cassatt burned her letters from Edgar Degas before her death, leaving history to guess at the details of their relationship. This fictionalized account of the lives and loves of four famous Impressionists brings readers into the heart of the belle epoque.

Women Impressionists: Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzal¨s, Marie Bracquemond, edited by Ingrid Pfeiffer and Max Hollein (2008). This exhibition catalogue showcases four pioneering figures of the 19th-century Impressionist movement, highlighting their individual bodies of work.

NCMA in Dialogue: Seeking Self

Join us for an online discussion moderated by Alia El-Bermani with Leila Abdelrazaq, Precious Lovell, and Sylvia Maier. These diverse artists–a graphic zine maker, a textile artist, and a figurative painter–use self-portraiture to explore, among other things, the ongoing evolution of identity and how place is a factor in self-determination.

Madame X in Context

Discover more about the possible identity of Madame X and where she is headed on NCMALearn.

Women in Art at the NCMA

Women artists have been underrepresented in most museums, including the NCMA. Jennifer Dasal will share some of her favorite works by women artists in the collection and speak about the NCMA’s ongoing efforts to change this oversight and expand representation of women in a virtual Humber Lecture on March 25.

Mindful Museum: Slow-Art Appreciation

Slow art is a growing movement to mindfully observe and communally appreciate art. Join us on March 17 for an hour-long virtual program that offers centering techniques and a breathing practice followed by an intentional observation of Cassatt’s Portrait of Madame X. Calm the mind and experience art in a deeper way.

Musical Offering: Songs by Women Producers

Today’s single-lady-at-the-matinee is the female music producer. Rare birds with few well-deserved accolades, the producers on these tracks are nonetheless changing the music game, holding their own in a male-dominated profession.

Audio Description

The recording below is an audio description of Portrait of Madame X Dressed for the Matinee. Audio description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is a means to inform them about visual content essential for comprehension.

Change the Face: Finding Power in Identity

Watch this recording of our recent Lunchtime Lecture with Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator Maya Brooks. She speaks on the intersections of power and identity via the NCMA’s contemporary art collection, compares representations of Black women’s strength, and examines how these works compel us to “change the face of power.”

!Women Art Revolution

To celebrate Women’s History Month, our NCMA Film Club selection is the documentary !Women Art Revolution, which explores the feminist art movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Kimberly Kay Lamm, associate professor in the Program of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University, will moderate the March 19 discussion of the film.

Cassatt Slide Show

At a time when women were discouraged from careers, Mary Cassatt moved to Paris and dedicated her life to the pursuit of her artistic goals. The breadth of Cassatt’s art is on display in this slide show, which features the personalities of small children and the lives women lived behind closed doors and in society.

Museum Store Offering

The Museum Store celebrates Women’s History Month with products from women-owned businesses like Designed For Joy, a community partner providing transitional work experience for women overcoming vulnerable life situations. We’ve collaborated on feather-style earrings offered in NCMA colors and other leather gift options, including coin purses. Drop by the main Store in West Building or contact the Store at help@ncartmuseum.org for Plaza pickup options.


Mar 12, 2021


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