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Mary Cassatt - American Impressionist Artist

Updated on December 4, 2011

Artist Mary Cassatt was born on May 22, 1844 in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania; she was one of seven children. Her father was a successful stockbroker and her mother came from a banking family.

She began studying art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts at the age of 15; her parents were not happy about it but let her attend. She became a little disenchanted by what she was studying so she began studying the old masters on her own.

Mary moved to Paris in 1866 and studied privately with a number of artists including Jena-Leon Gerome. She returned briefly to the US in 1870. In 1871, she moved back to France and the next year made her first sale with her painting Two Women Throwing Flowers During Carnival. She later travelled to Spain.

Self portrait 1878
Self portrait 1878


Mary became friends with Edgar Degas around 1877; he invited her to display her works with the other Impressionist artists in various exhibitions.

Mary never married; she believed that marrying would have interfered with her art. She was supported financially by her parents but her father insisted she also sell paintings to help support herself.

In 1904, Mary Cassatt was awarded the French Legion of Honor for her contribution to the arts. By 1914, Mary was practically blind due to cataracts and had to stop painting.

Mary Cassatt died on June 14, 1926 in France.

A lot of Mary Cassatt's paintings featured mothers and children; that is what she seems to be best-known for today.Her painting remains popular today and a lot of her paintings are on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Her artwork regularly appears on greeting cards, notebooks, and calendars.

Two Women Throwing Flowers During Carnival 1871

Cup of Tea 1880

Summer 1894

Breakfast in Bed 1897


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  • alocsin profile image

    alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

    I saw a few of her paintings at the Orsay in Paris as well as museums here in Southern California. As you pointed out, the Met has a large collection of her work, and so does the Art Institute of Chicago, including prints and drawings. Even though she is American, she is oddly not as well-know as the French Impressionists. Voting this Up and Interesting.

  • Aya Katz profile image

    Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks

    Those are lovely paintings. She did such a great job depicting mothers and children. I wonder if she ever longed for a child of her own.

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Thanks for dropping by, glad you like it :)

  • profile image

    Ruskin2 8 years ago

    Thanks! I like that a lot. I'm saving to my favorites.

  • Gypsy Willow profile image

    Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

    Another fab hub!