That time three-year-old me spotted a Mary Cassatt painting at the Art Institute of Chicago

My mother had a framed print of Mary Cassatt’s “The Child’s Bath” in our home.

When I was about three, she took the family to a Cassatt exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.

As she pushed my stroller through the museum, I suddenly perked up and started shouting, “Mary Cassatt! Mary Cassatt!”

I had spotted the original picture hanging on the wall. I probably thought Mary Cassatt was the name of the little girl.

This evening, almost 50 years later, my mother still beamed with pride when she retold me the story of how the docents turned and stared with wide eyes, and how she heard an older patron’s voice say, “He knows his artists.”

This afternoon when I visited the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, I had paused to appreciate a different Cassatt painting. (According to the display text, Cassatt was born in Pittsburgh. I didn’t know that!)

When I started telling the docent my Mary Cassatt story, I realized I was fuzzy on the details… how old was I? Were we in Chicago? So during my usual Sunday evening phone call with my mother, I asked her to tell me the story again.

Just now when I looked up the painting to add it to my blog post, I got such a rush of familiarity. I remember it hanging in my sister’s room. Even when she went off to college, I would sometimes stop in and visit with this picture, so it makes me think of her, too.