Mary Cassatt Framed Art

Mary Cassatt 1844-1926

Mary Cassatt was one of the greatest impressionist oil painters of all time. Her artwork rivals any artist’s work in draftsmanship, composition, use of color and paint application. Her subject matter was mainly women, children and motherhood. She was never married, nor did she have any children, but her ability to render completely, without sentimentalism, the profound love and tenderness between mothers and their children has never been outstripped by anyone, including photographers of this century.

Mary Cassatt was a master in her time, or any time, but was never truly given the credit she deserved for her great contribution to impressionism. Monet, Manet, Sisley, Degas, Renoir and Passaro are names that are immediately recognizable when referring to the original impressionist artists. Was it because she was an American and a woman?

The truth is, Mary Cassatt wanted to be a professional artist from a young age, which was not a usual career path for a woman, even though it was socially acceptable. Her affluent parents were against her desire to be a successful career artist, but she was supported in her schooling none-the-less.

Cassatt began her studies at age 15, at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia from 1861 to 1865, which was the duration of the American Civil War. After her education, she went to live in Paris, France, where she had originally lived for a time with her family while growing up. She continued her studies on her own by painting copies of the old masters at the Louvre and other museums in the traditional classical style. In 1872, one of her paintings was admitted by the judges to the prestigious Salon in Paris.

Edgar Degas, known well for his impressionist oil paintings, pastels and sculptures of ballerinas and the ballet, befriended Mary Cassatt. He respected her great talent. Some historians believe that they may have been lovers. He introduced her to the controversial band of impressionists, who were refused by the Salon, but are now considered great masters of impressionism today. Her colors became lighter and brighter and she began painting people.

A mural for the Woman’s Building at the Chicago World’s Fair was commissioned to Mary Cassatt in 1892, which was the artist’s great breakthrough.

Mary Cassatt was also a great print maker. Her art was influenced both by Japanese wood prints and later, the Renaissance.

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