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Women of the Hall

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Year Honored: 1973
Birth: 1844 - Death: 1926
Born In: Pennsylvania, United States of America
Died In: , France
Achievements: Arts
Educated In: Pennsylvania
Schools Attended: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Atelier of Charles Chaplin
Worked In: Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut

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Mary Cassatt

In the nineteenth century many young women of wealthy background dabbled in painting to while away their leisure hours. Mary Cassatt took it seriously. She came from a well-to-do family and lived in Europe for several years when she was a child. When, at twenty-two, she declared she could learn no more in Philadelphia, her parents let her return to Europe. In Rome, Seville, Antwerp, and Paris, she studied the masters' techniques. She sharpened her skills by copying Corregio, Rubens, and Franz Hals. Cassatt was in Paris at that extraordinary moment when the Impressionists first overturned established artistic standards. They recognized in her a kindred spirit and a powerful talent, and she was invited to exhibit in the Impressionist shows. "I accepted with joy," she recalled. "I took leave of conventional art. I began to live." She never married. In 1877 her parents moved to Europe to join her, and for the next eighteen years she was obliged to devote some of her time to their care. Surrounded by bourgeois respectability, she painted what she saw: interiors, gardens, and portraits, especially of mothers and children. Mary Cassatt was self-disciplined, intense, and outspoken. She never did commissioned portraits, accepted no pupils, and refused to paint "pot-boilers." Her influence on American art carried beyond her own work because she gave advice to American art collectors. The famed Havemeyer collection, now part of the Metropolitan Musem of Art, began when Mary Cassatt convinced young Lousiane Havemeyer to spend all her schoolgirl allowance on a Degas pastel.
Additional Sources:

Pollock, Griselda. Mary Cassatt: painter of modern women. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1998. NOTES: ""World of Art"" series. Includes bibliographical references (p.218-219) and index.

Mathews, Nancy Mowll. Mary Cassatt: a life. New York: Villard Books, 1994. NOTES: Includes index. Bibliography; p. [357]-361.

Witzling, Mara Rose. Illustrations from the National Gallary of Art (U.S.) Mary Cassatt: a private world. New York, New York: Universe, 1991. NOTES: Includes bibliographical (p. 80).

Mary Cassatt, modern women. Organized by Judith A. Barther, with contributions by Erica E. Hirshler, and the Arteche Consultants Staff. New York: Art Institute of Chicago in association with H.N. Abrams, c1998.

Papers 1869-1925, 1 reel of microfilm (ca.300 items). Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Art. Washington, D.C.

Letters 1908-1910, 23 items. Shelburne Museum, Library. Shelburne, Vermont.