Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt


Artist Details

Birth Place
Allegheny City, Pennsylvania
Death Place
Le Mesnil-Theribus, France
Phonetic Spelling
Drawings and prints; Painting
Places of Residence
Paris; Le Mesnil-Theribus, France
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1861–65
Retrospective Exhibitions

Mary Cassatt Retrospective, Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan, 2016; Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 1998–99; Mary Cassatt, 1844–1926, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1970; Exposition de Tableaux, Pastels et Gravures de Mary Cassatt, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1893

NMWA Exhibitions

Trove: The Collection in Depth, 2011
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997, 1997–98
The Washington Print Club Thirtieth Anniversary Exhibition: Graphic Legacy, 1994–95
Four Centuries of Womens Art: The National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1990–91
American Women Artists: 1830-1930, 1987

About the Artist

Recognized as one of the foremost 19th-century American painters and printmakers, Mary Cassatt is known for her prolific career and Impressionist artwork.

A native of Pennsylvania who lived as an expatriate in Paris beginning in 1874, Mary Cassatt started formal training as a painter in 1861. In 1865, she took her first trip to Europe, where she would remain for the next four years, traveling and studying in Paris, Rome, and Madrid. In 1868, her painting A Mandolin Player became her first work to be accepted by the Paris Salon, the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts.

Edgar Degas saw Cassatt’s work at the Salon, and in 1877 he asked her to exhibit with the Impressionists. Cassatt’s painting style and subject matter changed greatly because of her association with Impressionism. She abandoned colorful costume genre depictions in favor of scenes from contemporary life.

Two years later, Cassatt and other artists, including Degas, Félix Braquemond, and Camille Pissarro, experimented with graphic techniques in the hopes of creating a new print journal. Although the journal never came to fruition, this work became very important to Cassatt in her development as a printmaker and a painter.

Throughout the latter half of the 1880s, Cassatt produced etchings and drypoints of members of her family. Her failing eyesight prevented her from working for the last 15 years of her life, but because she had been an exceptionally prolific printmaker, she produced more than 220 prints during the course of her career. 

National Museum of Women in the Arts