Cassatt’s paintings often document the social interactions of well-to-do women like herself. The activities they depict—tea drinking, going to the theatre, tending children—fall within the normal routine for Cassatt’s sex and class. Yet the painter’s insistence upon representing such episodes from the modern world (even a sheltered segment of it), her dislike for narrative, and her devotion to surface arrangement and color, all evident in The Tea, mark Cassatt’s dedication to the most advanced artistic principles of her day. In 1877 Cassatt had been invited by Edgar Degas to join a group of independent artists, later known as the Impressionists. “I accepted with joy,” she later recalled. “I hated conventional art.” She was one of just a few women, and the only American, to exhibit with the group.