Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926), considered one of the most prominent and notable 19th-century American painters, was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania—now a part of Pittsburgh—and was one of seven children, two of whom died in infancy. As the daughter of wealthy parents, Cassatt was able to travel at a young age, and would spend most of her adult life in Europe, primarily in France. She is best known for her paintings depicting women in their public and private realms, and for her later association with the Impressionists. Cassatt began studying painting at the age of 15 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, despite her family’s disapproval of her interest in being a professional artist. In 1866, she moved to Paris with her mother and family friends, where she applied to study privately with instructors from the exclusive École des Beaux-Arts. Within just two years, one of Cassatt’s paintings was accepted for display in the highly-selective Paris Salon. Cassatt returned home to the United States in 1870, due to the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War, and was then commissioned by the Archbishop of Pittsburgh to paint copies of paintings by 16th-century Italian painter Antonio da Correggio (1489–1534). This commission enabled her to earn the money necessary to continue painting, and Cassatt returned to Europe in 1871 and permanent residence in France in 1874, where her work was regularly exhibited at the Paris Salon. In 1877, Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917) invited her to exhibit her paintings with the Impressionists, and they became close friends and colleagues. For the highly successful 1879 Impressionist exhibition, Cassatt painted some of her best known paintings, including Little Girl in a Blue Armchair (1878), Portrait of the Artist (1878), and Reading Le Figaro (1878), which is a portrait of Cassatt’s mother. Cassatt’s works are part of the permanent collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

Timeline

1844
Born: May 22nd in Allegheny City, PA
1861
Studies at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art, Philadelphia, PA
1866
Studied for a short period in the studio of Charles Chaplin, then took private lessons from Jean-Léon Gérôme.
1868–1874
Participates in her first Salon, Paris, France
1904
Legion d'Honneur, France
1910
Becomes a member of the National Academy of Design in New York
1926
Dies: June 14th in Château de Beaufresne in Mesnil-Théribus, France

Exhibitions

1928
A Memorial Exhibition of the Works of Mary Cassatt, Carnegie Institute Pittsburgh, PA
1926–1927
Memorial Collection of the Works of Mary Cassatt, Art Institute of Chicago, IL
1927
Mary Cassatt Memorial Exhibition, Pennsylvania Museum of Art Philadelphia, PA
1926
Exhibition of Paintings and Pastels by Mary Cassatt, Durand-Ruel New York
1924
Exposition de Tableaux et pastels par Mary Cassatt, Durand-Ruel Paris
1920
Exhibition of Paintings and Pastels by Mary Cassatt, Durand-Ruel New York
1915
Loan Exhibition of Masterpieces by Old and Modern Painters, M. Knoedler & Co. New York
1914
Tableaux, Pastels, Dessins et Pointes-Sèches par Mary Cassatt, Durand-Ruel Paris, France
1908
Exposition Mary Cassatt, Galerie Vollard Paris, France
1908
Tableaux et pastels par Mary Cassatt, Durand-Ruel Paris, France
1898
Exhibition of Paintings, Pastels and Etchings by Miss Mary Cassatt, St. Botolph Club Boston, MA
1895
Exposition of Paintings, Pastels and Etchings by Miss Mary Cassatt, Durand-Ruel New York
1893
Exposition Mary Cassatt, Dunad-Ruel Paris, France
1891
Exposition de Tableaux, Pastels, et Gravures par Mlle. Mary Cassatt, Durand-Ruel Paris, France
1886
8me Exposition de Peinture, (8th Impressionist Exhibition) Paris, France
1881
6me Exposition de Peinture, (6th Impressionist Exhibition) Paris, France
1880
5me Exhibition de Peinture, (5th Impressionist Exhibition) Paris, France
1879
4me Exposition de Peinture (Fourth Impressionist Exhibition), Paris, France
1878
Exposition Universelle, Paris, France
1876
Paris Salon
1875
Paris Salon
1874
Paris Salon
1873
Paris Salon
1872
Paris Salon
1870
Paris Salon
1868
Paris Salon