Mary Cassatt was an American painter and printmaker, born on May 22, 1844, in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, USA. She was the fourth of five children born to Robert Simpson Cassatt and Katherine Kelso Johnston. Her family was affluent and well-educated, and her father was a successful stockbroker and land speculator.
Cassatt's childhood was marked by frequent travels to Europe and exposure to art museums and galleries. She showed an early interest in art and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. However, her parents did not support her desire to become an artist, and she had to study in secret.
In 1865, Cassatt traveled to Europe to continue her artistic training. She studied with Jean-Léon Gérôme in Paris and visited Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands to study the works of the Old Masters. She also met Edgar Degas, who would become a close friend and influence on her work.
Cassatt's husband was never mentioned in any of her biographies or writings. However, it is known that she never married and did not have any children.
Cassatt's friends included many notable artists and writers of her time, such as Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Berthe Morisot, and Henry James.
Cassatt's workplaces were primarily in Paris, where she lived for most of her adult life. She exhibited her work at the Salon in Paris and later at the Impressionist exhibitions.
Cassatt was influenced by the Impressionist movement, which emphasized the use of light and color in painting. She also drew inspiration from Japanese prints, which she collected and incorporated into her own work.
Cassatt's technique involved the use of pastels and a subtle, delicate touch. She often depicted women and children in everyday situations, emphasizing their individuality and humanity.
Cassatt's footprint in the art world is significant, as she was one of the few American women artists to achieve international recognition during her lifetime. Her work helped to expand the boundaries of what was considered acceptable subject matter for women artists and to challenge the gender norms of her time.
Here are five of Cassatt's most important paintings:
The Child's Bath (1893) - This painting shows a mother bathing her child in a shallow tub. The warm colors and soft brushstrokes give the painting a gentle, intimate feel.
Little Girl in a Blue Armchair (1878) - This painting depicts a young girl sitting in a blue armchair, looking off to the side. The painting's muted colors and contemplative mood are characteristic of Cassatt's work.
The Boating Party (1893-94) - This painting shows a group of people in a boat on the water. Cassatt's use of color and light creates a sense of movement and excitement.
Mother and Child (1890) - This painting shows a mother and child sitting on a sofa, the child leaning against the mother's chest. The painting's soft, warm tones and intimate setting evoke a sense of tenderness and love.
Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge (1879) - This painting shows a woman wearing a pearl necklace and sitting in a theater box, looking out at the audience. The painting's use of color and light creates a sense of elegance and sophistication.