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Mary Cassatt letters, 1882-1926

Biographical Note

Painter Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) lived and worked in Paris, France. She is one of the preeminent Impressionists known for her depictions of both the social and domestic lives of women and their children.
Cassatt was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania and began her art studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts at the age of sixteen. In 1865, she traveled to Paris to further her art studies under the private tutelage of Jean-Léon Gérôme and Thomas Couture, and augmented these studies with daily copying at the Louve. From 1868 to 1877, she traveled to Italy, Spain, Belgium, and Holland to view and copy the old masters and produced works that were accepted into the Paris Salon. With the encouragement of Edgar Degas, Cassatt began painting in the avant-garde Impressionist style in 1877. For the next ten years, Cassatt exhibited Impressionist paintings to critical international acclaim. After 1887, she began to experiment with other mediums and techniques, though she continued to focus her subject matter on the lives of women and children. Through the 1890s, she became a mentor to young American artists, acted as an advisor to American art collectors, and served as an ambassador for various art institutions. In 1904, she received France's Légion d'Honneur and continued producing works through the 1900s. In 1915, Cassatt stopped painting due to her failing eyesight, and lived in Le Mesnil-Théribus, France until her death in 1926.