Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844-1926, American)

Mary Cassatt Self-Portrait Gouache on Paper 1878 Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mary Cassatt
Self-Portrait
Gouache on Paper
1878
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mary Stevenson Cassatt  was born in a small town in Pennsylvania, and moved to Philadelphia where she started school at age six.  Both her parents were well educated and believed that travel was an integral part of learning.  Thus, Mary was sent abroad to study German and French, along with art, which she had become interested in at an early age.  At Paris’ first World’s Fair in 1855, it is likely that she came across the works of Degas and Pissarro, both of whom would later become her mentors.  From 1861-1865, Cassatt attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and decided to pursue art as a career.  In 1866, she moved to Paris with her mother and some family friends in order to continue studying art.  Unable to enroll in the École des Beaux-Arts, she became the private student of Jean-Léon Gérôme.  In 1871, she returned to Pennsylvania, where her father openly refused to support her career as an artist.  After almost giving up painting, she was given a commission by the Archbishop of Pittsburgh to copy two works by Corregio in Parma, Italy.  This allowed her to return to Europe, where she was able to continue her painting.  Cassatt soon became popular in Parma, but even so, she continued to have conflicts with the Paris Salon.  After some time, she was invited to join the Impressionist’s group which only had one other female member, Berthe Morisot, (cat painter) with whom Cassatt became close friends.  Here she also met Edgar Degas, whom she quite admired, and eventually studied under.  Cassatt remained with the Impressionists until around 1886, but afterward started experimenting with other techniques, and eventually broke away from the group.  The 1890’s were her most prolific and creative years.  In the early 1900’s, she began to concentrate almost exclusively on mother and child scenes where a cat is sometimes present to accentuate the idea of motherhood and domesticity.  Just fourteen years later in 1914, Cassatt found herself almost totally blind and had to cease painting.  She died in France in 1926, and was buried in the family vault just outside Paris.

Ellen Holding a Cat Looking Left Mary Cassatt cats in art

Ellen Holding a Cat Looking Left
Mary Cassatt

 

 

Robert Holding a Cat Drypoint Mary Cassatt 1882

Robert Holding a Cat
Drypoint
Mary Cassatt
1882

Reine Lefebvre with Blond Baby, Girl and Cat Mary Cassatt

Reine Lefebvre with Blond Baby, Girl and Cat
Mary Cassatt

 

Young woman wearing a small winged hat holding a cat 1914 cats in art

Young Woman Wearing a Small Winged Hat Holding a Cat
Mary Cassatt
Pastel on paper
1914

 

 

 


 

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