The famous Mary Cassatt was born in Pennsylvania (1844). She spent much of her childhood traveling around the United States with her family. They moved from town to town because of the work of her father’s job as a railroad executive.
After her father died, Mary and her family moved to Europe when she was young. She studied art in Paris, where she met influential artists like Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, and Édouard Manet. She went back to live in America for a few years after falling ill from depression but returned to Paris eventually.
She focused on painting again and created some of her most famous works, including The Boating Party (1878) and The Child’s Bath (1892). Mary Cassatt became an American citizen in 1926, though she spent most of her life living in France.
Mary Cassatt’s School Years
Mary was well educated for a woman of her time. She learned Latin, French, German and Italian, and how to play the piano. Mary’s mother was interested in having her daughter become an artist, so she enrolled in art school at the age of 14.
Mary Cassatt started learning how to paint at an early age under her father’s guidance. At age 16, she enrolled in a boarding school that offered classes in art and music. In 1874, Mary left school and moved to Paris, France, where she attended Académie Julian to study art formally. Shortly after, Mary began attending courses at Académie Delécluse—one of Paris’ most prestigious art schools—with painter Edgar Degas as her instructor.
Mary’s work was first publicly exhibited in 1879 at a Paris art salon. The following year, Mary returned to Philadelphia, where she lived with her family. During her stay, Mary also took painting classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts—where she later became an instructor after returning to Paris.
Her Work-Life: The Contributions
Study Mary Cassatt drawings to learn about her work, artworks, and inspiration. Mary Cassatt’s paintings are noted for their use of beautiful color tones, fluid lines, varying brush strokes, strong composition, and high-level technical skills. Her best paintings include ‘The Child’s Bath’ (1892), ‘A Woman in Blue Reading’ (1893), ‘Little Girl in a Blue Armchair’ (1893), and ‘Woman Bathing in a Stream’ (1905). All four are now housed at The Art Institute of Chicago.
Mary Cassatt’s artworks encompass portraits, domestic scenes, images of women in social settings, and figurative art depicting women’s roles in society. She worked directly from nature and depicted everyday scenes with a realistic style emphasizing gesture. Her painting ‘A Woman Bathing in a Stream is noted for its use of light-dark contrast. The woman’s face is lit by sunlight while her body is shaded by trees, giving it an ethereal quality that contrasts with her physical surroundings.
Mary Cassatt is among female impressionist painters known as Les Femmes Peintres Impressionists (The Impressionist Women Painters). When she was studying at The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, she often visited Giverny to learn with her mentor Claude Monet. Many of her paintings were made in his studio or garden, including some replicas of his famous works.
A Look Into Her Personal Life
The American painter, Mary Cassatt’s work is often seen as very similar to that of her friend, Edgar Degas. She, however, is best known for her unique contributions to women’s rights in late 19th century America. Mary graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1848 and three other women. After graduation, Mary received a scholarship that sent her to Europe for further training.
Her interest in women’s education was sparked when she studied with Thomas Couture and Jean-Louis Prisse d’Avenas. In 1877, she founded an art school specifically designed to train women artists. It also became a site for social gatherings for many women fighting for suffrage. In 1879, she became a founding member of The Woman’s Art Club in Philadelphia.
During this time, she befriended many notable artists, including Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir; through these friendships, Mary gained exposure to Impressionism, which became one of her primary artistic styles.
Her Art, Style, and Business Style
Painter Mary Cassatt’s work is more than just art—her famous paintings are business cards for a new future. Although she lived in France for a large portion of her life, both of Mary’s parents were Americans, giving us a great example of an entrepreneur who moved across borders to make their dreams come true.
In 1878, Mary traveled to Paris with her mother and sister; she studied painting at École des Beaux-Arts by 1880. While there, Mary met Edgar Degas and Camille Pissarro (an impressionist). These men would have a lasting impact on Mary’s style as an artist. Degas taught Mary how to draw, while Pissarro showed her how to paint with vibrant colors that gave her artwork movement.
Mary would leave Paris in 1882 to care for her sick mother. Once her mother passed away, Mary returned to France, settling permanently in 1883. In France, she continued to study painting at Academie Julien and work with Degas. Mary’s work was exhibited there until 1900 when she left Paris again for good.
In 1902, Mary moved to Philadelphia to open her art studio. She decided to move because Edgar Degas’s artwork inspired her; Degas had lived in Pennsylvania since 1871. While she didn’t paint as frequently while in Philadelphia, Mary continued to teach privately from her home until 1904. This was when she accepted a teaching position at the Art Students League of New York; she stayed there for more than three decades.
Mary Cassatt was an inspiration. Her work is impressive as she was very talented and lived an incredible life! In addition, her paintings are worth millions of dollars due to their artistic value.
So, if you want to learn about Mary Cassatt’s famous paintings, or want to study Mary Cassatt’s drawings, keep checking our site for more information on Mary Cassat’s famous paintings!