Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Katherine Wells

Committee Members

Richard Leson


Arts and Crafts Movement, Embroidery, Impressionist, Mary Cassatt, Medievalism, Needlecraft


Mary Cassatt (b. 1844) painted her sister Lydia working at an embroidery frame while the two shared a home in Paris in 1881. Considering the painting’s subject, needlecraft, Lydia at a Tapestry Frame presents the opportunity to investigate Cassatt’s engagement with artistic movements associated with neo-medievalism and the Arts and Crafts Movement. In light of contemporary writings that explored the artistic potential of needlecraft and decoration, Lydia’s hobby presented Cassatt with the opportunity to showcase the artistic and self-expressive potential of a gendered medium. The formerly unrecognized “art” had the potential to show that women and their decorative crafts could be both inventive and artistic.