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Mary Cassatt

Born: May 22, 1844
Place: Allegheny, now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Died: June 14, 1926
Place: Beaufresne, near Paris, France

Mary Cassatt Mary Cassatt was born on May 22, 1844 in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, which is now part of Pittsburgh. She was born into an affluent family, her father being a wealthy investment banker. Her early years were spent in Philadelphia, but as a youngster she traveled to Europe with her family, living for four years in Germany and France. In 1855 she returned to the United States, back to Philadelphia. In 1861 she became a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where she studied drawing and painting for four years. In 1865 she traveled abroad again to travel, paint, and study the art of Europe's Old Masters. Her travels took her to Rome, Madrid, and Paris.

Paris became the center of the art world in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and, like many other artists of her time, Mary Cassatt made Paris her home. In 1868 she had her work exhibited at the highly regarded Salon in Paris. Her work attracted the attention of Edgar Degas, an artist associated with the style then becoming known as Impressionism in European art circles. As an influential Impressionist, Degas invited Mary Cassatt to participate in Impressionist exhibits, and in 1877 she accepted his invitation, and continued to exhibit with the Impressionists until 1886. As a painter and printmaker, Cassatt's work is best known for her depictions of women in domestic and intimate settings, and for her theme of mother and child. Her work became popular both in Europe and in the United States, as examples of Impressionist art. In 1890, she attended a large exhibit of Japanese prints, which had become popular in Paris, and her work became more influenced by the style of Japanese prints. As a versatile artist, Cassatt's earlier works were paintings done primarily in oils, but her later interests tended toward printmaking, pastels, and paper.

Mary Cassatt lived most of her life in Paris, with occasional return visits to the United States. She is considered to be one of the greatest Impressionist artists. Mary Cassatt died in Beaufresne, near Paris, in 1926.

Be sure to read Nancy Mowll Mathews' biography of Mary Cassatt, Mary Cassatt: A Life which you can purchase from Amazon.com by clicking here.


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