Mary Cassatt is the most popular women artist in the USA. She was born in 1845 in a town near Pittsburgh. She began her career at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where she studied from 1861 until 1864. She studied in Paris, too.
Mary Cassatt began her career as a realistic painter. Later she started experimenting with light and colour. In 1877 Degas invited her to join the Impressionists. Mary Cassatt was the only American who exhibited with the French Impressionists. Cassatt took part in four of their exhibitions.
There was something of Manet and Renoir in her works, but she developed her own style. It shows influence of Japanese art.
Cassatt never marries, never had children. But she expressed in her work a profound understanding of the mother and child relations. Womanhood and motherhood were her favourite subjects. Her treatment of these themes was characterized by tenderness. Yet her pictures are objective, direct and free from sentimentality. She sees children as individuals. Her famous canvas “Susan comforting the baby” shows a baby with a personality of her own.
Mary Cassatt’s achievements are great, if we think of the difficulties faced by women artists at the time. Edgar Degas wrote about her: “I am not willing to admit that a woman can draw that well”.