|Self Portrait by Mary Cassatt, 1876|
"Mary Stevenson Cassatt (play /kəˈsæt/; May 22, 1844 – June 14, 1926) was an American painter and printmaker. She lived much of her adult life in France, where she first befriended Edgar Degas and later exhibited among the Impressionists. Cassatt often created images of the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children. "
"She was described by Gustave Geffroy in 1894 as one of "les trois grandes dames" of Impressionism alongside Marie Bracquemond and Berthe Morisot. [...]
"Cassatt was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, which is now part of Pittsburgh. She was born into an upper-middle-class family: her father, Robert Simpson Cassat (later Cassatt), was a successful stockbroker and land speculator, and her mother, Katherine Kelso Johnston, came from a banking family. Katherine Cassatt, educated and very well read, had a profound influence on her daughter. To that effect, Cassatt's lifelong friend Louisine Havemeyer wrote in her memoirs: "Anyone who had the privilege of knowing Mary Cassatt's mother would know at once that it was from her and her alone that [Mary] inherited her ability." [...]
"In 1877 [...], she was invited by Edgar Degas to show her works with the Impressionists, a group that had begun their own series of independent exhibitions in 1874 with much attendant notoriety. The Impressionists (also known as the "Independents" or "Intransigents") had no formal manifesto and varied considerably in subject matter and technique. They tended to prefer open air painting and the application of vibrant color in separate strokes with little pre-mixing, which allows the eye to merge the results in an “impressionistic” manner. The Impressionists had been receiving the wrath of the critics for several years. Henry Bacon, a friend of the Cassatts, thought that the Impressionists were so radical that they were 'afflicted with some hitherto unknown disease of the eye.' They already had one female member, artist Berthe Morisot, who became Cassatt’s friend and colleague.
Lydia Leaning on Her Arms (in a theatre box)
by Mary Cassatt, 1879
|"Degas had considerable influence on Cassatt. She became extremely proficient in the use of pastels, eventually creating many of her most important works in this medium. Degas also introduced her to etching, of which he was a recognized master. The two worked side-by-side for a while, and her draftsmanship gained considerable strength under his tutelage. He depicted her in a series of etchings recording their trips to the Louvre. She had strong feelings for him but learned not to expect too much from his fickle and temperamental nature. The sophisticated and well-dressed Degas, then forty-five, was a welcome dinner guest at the Cassatt residence."|