Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844 –  1926)  was one the most important American impressionists.  She began studying painting at the Pennsylvannia Academy of Fine Arts  in Philadelphia at the age of 15.  She moved to Paris in 1866 and  studied with Jean- Leon Gerome and Thomas Couture. Her painting Two Women Throwing Flowers During Carnival was well received in the Paris Salon of 1872.  She then met Degas and began exhibiting with the impressionists. Mary was one of the nineteenth century artists that partook in the new trends of the second half of that great century of innovations. She exhibited in many of the Salons and gallery exhibitions alongside both American and French artists. Sargent, Whistler and Cassatt shared a common fate of being Americans Abroad in Paris who’s time in Europe influenced and improved their taste and talent as adequate art schools, first rate galleries of paintings, and dependable patronage were not to be easily found in mid-ninteenth century America.

After some time studying in Paris Cassatt lightened her palette and was influenced by the French painters of the time. For her subjects, she cared little for important personages and was mainly interested in line, pattern, and color She admired the Japanese arts for the mastery of these elements. Mary was interested in everyday subjects including mother and child and was influenced by Correggio. She often painted her sister Lydia Cassatt who can be found in many of her works. Cassatt’s primary subject was the figure and not too often landscapes or still life, unless included as part of a larger figural painting, as she felt they were too simple, too easy. She was clever and learned and spent a great deal of time at her craft as well as discussions with other artists on art and literature. Mary was devoted to her work, and in fact did not marry nor have a family, but rather spent her time alongside artists working hard at her profession. Mary Cassatt is included and known as one of the top American women painters of this time and takes a place next to Berthe Morrisott one of the most important woman French painters.

Below is the only known self portrait of Mary Cassatt, by this time she was friends of Degas and had begun to show his influence in his work.

Mary Cassat Self Portrait