Birth name Mary Stevenson Cassatt
Born May 22, 1844 , Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, USA
Died June 14, 1926, Chateau de Beaufresne at Le Mesnil Theribus, Oise, France
The daughter of a rich Pittsburgh banker, she decided to take up painting and in 1866 went to live and work in France. In 1872 she went to Italy and spent eight months at the Parma Academy studying with the painter and engraver Raimondi. That same year she visited Seville, as well as going to Belgium and Holland, and under the name Mary Stevenson exhibited On the Balcony at the Salon in Paris. In 1877 Degas, who had noticed her Portrait of Zola in the 1874 Salon, suggested her joining the Impressionists. She showed two paintings at their fourth exhibition in 1879, The Box at the Theatre and The Cup of Tea, and also had pictures in their fifth (1880), sixth (1881) and eighth (1886) exhibitions. In 1891 and 1893 one-man shows of her work were held at the Durand-Ruel Gallery. Mary Cassatt did engravings as well as paintings and pastels. Her main work was portraits, and she also painted a number of pictures of a mother holding her child in her arms. Degas, who was normally an admirer of her work, saw one of these mother-and-child pictures of hers one day, where the baby was rather too pretty and immaculate and well scrubbed, and he exclaimed in exasperation: 'Look! There's baby Jesus with his nanny!' However Mary Cassatt's work has a delicate sensitive texture, particularly in her landscapes; for instance Two women seated in a landscape.
Based on Phaidon encyclopedia of Impressionism, Maurice Serullaz, Phaidon, 1978