Favourite Artists – Mary Cassatt

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Rare self-portrait by Mary Cassatt. (1878)

I could pick a dozen artists out of history that I admire but Mary Cassatt (1844 – 1926) is by far my favourite. I’ll leave it to Wikipedia to give you the FULL version of her story but here is a short overview: Mary Cassatt lived an extraordinary life for a woman of her time. The affluence and mobility of her family provided her with the ability to chose her destiny more freely. At an early age she set out to become more than the typical “lady painter”, she wanted equality and she pursued an art career in the world of men. She was born in the US and lived most of her adult life in France where she became connected with the Impressionists and also many other famous artists of the day, including Edgar Degas.

It is admirable that Cassatt pursued a career in a world ruled by men and even more admirable that she did not do so in a typical fashion. She stepped outside of the popular subject matter and art styles of the day and chose to reflect and celebrate the domestic lives of women using new impressionistic art techniques.Β  She captured and presented, with respect, the experiences of the home and brought the daily life of women into the world of men.

I love her bravery and innovative tenacity.

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Young Mother Sewing

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Cassatt was also very inspired by Japanese printmaking and she explored the medium in a series of prints all featuring scenes from an average woman’s day. I LOVE these prints!

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Portraits of Mary Cassatt by Edgar Degas. The portrait on the right depicts Cassatt as a very confident and knowing woman but she disliked it so much that she complained, “It represents me as a person so repugnant that I do not want anyone to know I posed for it.” (Excerpt from: Mary Cassatt, Reflections of Women’s Lives by Debra N. Mancoff)

6 thoughts on “Favourite Artists – Mary Cassatt

  1. Thanks for the history lesson – I didn’t know the facts behind Mary Cassatt but a friend of mine introduced me to her work a long time ago. I was immediately captivated by her work especially the children – she managed to capture the pureness of mother and child – she was good – great taste in art but then you’re a great painter!

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