- Mary Cassatt - Transcending Conventional Expectations [Biography]
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Mary Cassatt

"I then tried to explain to you my ideas, principles I ought to say, in regard to jurys of artists, I have never served because I could never reconcile it to my conscience to be the means of shutting the door in the face of a fellow painter. I think the jury system may lead, & in the case of the Exhibitions at the Carnegie Institute no doubt does lead to a high average, but in art what we want is the certainty that the one spark of original genius shall not be extinguished, that is better than average excellence, that is what will survive, what it is essential to foster--"
- letter to John W. Beatty, 5 September 1905

Mary Cassatt was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1845. Cassatt studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts until 1868. At that time, she went to Europe to complete her art education. After travelling extensively on the continent, she settled in Paris in 1874, and studied under Charles Chaplin. In that year she was accepted at the Salon, and in 1877 met Degas, who was to remain a close friend and mentor. Cassatt was a talented painter and print-maker who excelled at intimate scenes of everyday life, especially the daily activities and realms of modern women.

Cassatt was the only American artist to be included in the Impressionist's exhibitions in Paris. She participated in the Impressionist exhibitions of 1879-81 and 1886. Financially, Cassatt was a great asset to the Impressionists by providing them with direct financial support and in her critical role as an art advisor to private collectors and public museums in the United States. It is largely thanks to her that so many marvellous Impressionist paintings are now in American museums.

Mary Cassatt died on 14 June, 1926, at the age of 82.

contributed by Gifford, Katya


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