In the Loge was the first of Cassatt’s Impressionist paintings to be displayed in the United States. When it was shown in Boston in 1878, critics described the picture as “striking,” adding that Cassatt’s painting “surpassed the strength of most men.” The canvas, then entitled At the Français—A Sketch, depicts a fashionable lady dressed for an afternoon performance at the Comédie-Française, a theater in Paris. Entertainments like the theater, the opera, and the racetrack were extremely popular among Parisians, who enjoyed such diversions not only for the show, but also for the opportunity to see—and to be seen by—their peers. The Impressionists took delight in painting these spectacles of modern life, and the theater, with its dazzling variety of lights and reflections, was an especially appealing subject. Many male artists, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Degas, had painted beautiful women in theater boxes, where they appeared as if they were on display in a gilded frame. Cassatt gave her female figure a noticeably more dynamic role, for she peers avidly through her opera glasses at the row of seats across from her. In the background at upper left, a man trains his gaze upon her. The viewer, who sees them both, completes the circle. Cassatt’s painting explores the very act of looking, breaking down the traditional boundaries between the observer and the observed, the audience and the performer.