Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)

Mary Stevenson Cassatt was an American painter and printmaker. She lived most of her life in France, where she befriended Edgar Degas and exhibited with the Impressionists. Cassatt paintings most often depicted the private lives of women, especially on the special bond that exits between mothers and daughters.Mary Cassatt was born in Pennsylvania, and her family valued travel as part of education. By her 11th birthday, Cassatt had already seen much of Europe, including London, Paris and Berlin. Despite her family s objections to her pursuit of a career in art, she enrolled in art school in Pennsylvania, but soon found the education not suited to her passions. Cassatt moved to Paris in 1866 to study the old masters.

After much independent study in the Paris museums, Mary Cassatt was the student of Camille Pisarro. She was accepted into the Paris Salon in 1872, but critics said her paintings were too bright and too realistic, thus making her subjects unflattering. Along with her friend Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt became a master of pastels, her most famous paintings created in this medium.

Mary Cassatt s style changed throughout her career, as she moved from impressionism and experimented with various techniques. A simple, straightforward approach defines Cassatt paintings, rigorously drawn and tenderly observed; yet the subjects remain stoically removed and unsentimental.

Starting in the 1890s, Mary Cassatt became an advisor to American artists as well as gallery owners, while her work slowly gained recognition in the United States. Even in old age, plagued by cataracts, diabetes, rheumatism, and neuralgia, she continued to paint and travel. She was awarded France s Legion d honneur in 1906 for her contributions to the art world.

Mary Cassatt died in 1926 in Paris and was buried with her family in France.


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