Thursday, June 6, 2013

Beach Girls

I've always loved the work of American Impressionist Mary Cassatt--this 1884 painting titled "Children Playing on the Beach" in particular.
Even when I was raising five sons (no daughters), even long before my oldest son's wife gave birth to identical twin baby girls (two years ago this past Sunday), I was drawn to this sweet image of two little lasses digging in the sand at the beach.  Nowadays when I look at it, I am reminded of the twins.

However, after years of fondly perusing this painting and saying to myself, "What a darling pair of little girls!", it has suddenly struck me that it may be possible that the child wearing a sort of smock in the foreground was meant to be a boy--but fashions being what they were for toddler boys during the era it was painted, he looks like a girl. Otherwise, wouldn't that child be wearing a sunbonnet, too?  And tights?  And a lace petticoat?  And wouldn't Cassatt have titled this work "Girls Playing on the Beach"?

As illustrated by this old photograph of a Victorian boy in a sailor suit (dress!), circa late 1880's, it must have been kind of hard to tell the lads from the lasses.
Yikes!  If my boys didn't know already how glad they are that they
didn't grow up back in the Victorian Age, I think they do now!
But you know something?  I've just made a command decision.  No matter what Mary Cassatt's intention was, as far as the sex of the two children in that painting goes, to me, they'll always be a pair of GIRLS.


  1. You know I love Mary Cassatt also. This beach painting might look really cute hanging in your granddaughters' room. I think her depictions of children are so sweet and I definitely plan to find one or two or her prints to hang in a nursery someday! :)

  2. I should give a copy of it to my d-i-l. Good idea!