'Paris: Notre-Dame and Beyond' Celebrates the City of Light in 30 Artworks, Complements 'Mary Cassatt’s Women' Exhibition

  • SAN ANTONIO, Texas
  • /
  • December 12, 2019

  • Email
Henri Rivière French, 1864 - 1951. Du Haut des Tours Notre - Dame (From the Tower of Notre - Dame) from Les Paysages Parisiens, 1900. Lithograph. Gift of the Friends of the McNay 2001.19.7

Drawn entirely from the McNay Art Museum’s collection, Paris: Notre-Dame and Beyond celebrates Paris monuments and marvels with more than 30 artworks depicting the City of Light, on view in San Antonio, Texas, through February 23, 2020.

“The fire at the cathedral of Notre-Dame this year served as a reminder of the special place Paris holds in the hearts and minds of people around the world,” said Lyle W. Williams, Curator of Prints and Drawings. “Even those who have not traveled to the city know it as an iconic world center of culture, history, art, and cuisine.”

Installation view, "Paris: Notre-Dame and Beyond."

Highlights include eight large scale color prints by one of the finest color lithographers of the 19th century, Henri Rivière. One of these offers a soaring view of Paris from the heights of Notre-Dame. Gothic Revival architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc’s beloved spire, which collapsed in the April fire, is hauntingly visible as it towers over the transept of the cathedral.

This exhibition also complements the McNay’s installation Mary Cassatt’s Women, on view in the Peggy Pitman Mays Gallery through February 9, 2020. Joined by the McNay’s own rare suite of Cassatt’s well-known aquatints as well as other works on paper, The Cup of Tea is on loan exclusively to the McNay from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York for three months.

Mary Cassatt, The Cup of Tea, ca. 1880-81. Oil on canvas. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, From the Collection of James Stillman, Gift of Dr. Ernest G. Stillman, 1922 (22.16.17). ©️The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image Source: Art Resource, NY

Mary Cassatt’s Women focuses on the artist’s images of the ordinary, authentic, and intimate moments from the daily lives of upper-middle-class women like herself as they care for children, ride the public omnibus, or enjoy the ritual of having tea. Cassatt’s compositions frequently include family members as subjects—including her sister Lydia—who is portrayed in The Cup of Tea.

“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,” said Heather Lammers, McNay Collections Manager and Curator. “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.”

While Cassatt’s art focused on an interior, domestic, and familial world, the works in Paris: Notre-Dame and Beyond feature cityscapes during the Belle Epoque (1870-1914), an era of great peace and prosperity during which Cassatt lived and worked in France.

Paris: Notre-Dame and Beyond is accompanied by historical video by the Lumière brothers, featuring the main façade of Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and even a moving sidewalk popularized by the 1900 Exposition Universelle. This modern marvel also appears in Félix Vallotton’s woodcuts of the Exposition, on view nearby.

This exhibition is organized for the McNay Art Museum by Lyle W. Williams, Curator of Prints and Drawings.


  • Email

ARTFIXdaily Artwire