Oil Paintings, American and European, by King Art
Mother & Child: Mary Cassatt

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Directory: Fine Art: Drawings: Charcoal: Pre 1940: item # 1095925

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Mary Cassatt, Pittsburg, PA., France,1844-1926, The Impressionist painter, Mary Cassatt is best known for her mother and child compositions. She was recognized by the turn of the century as one of the preeminent painters both of her native country and of France, which she made her permanent home in 1875. She spent her childhood in Pennsylvania, and then lived with her mother in Europe from 1851 until 1858, studying in a number of cities including Paris, Parma, and Seville. She returned to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1861 to 1865 and in 1866 went back to France, which she decided was best suited for her professional goals. There she spent much time studying works by artists living and deceased, and painted with Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Edgar Degas. Her first public success came at the Salon of 1868 with a painting praised by a New York Times critic for its "vigor of treatment and fine qualities of color". Cassatt continued to exhibit at the Salon through the mid-1870s, and attracted the attention of Edgar Degas, who invited her to join the artists dedicated to the "new painting", the Impressionists. At this time she abandoned the somber palette and traditional subject matter of the Academic style in favor of the light-filled modern life compositions favored by her colleagues, among them Monet, Renoir, and Berthe Morisot. She quickly adopted impressionist techniques of applying paint rapidly from a bright palette. Cassatt developed her own subject matter, using her family members as models because her lifestyle, with aging parents, was much more confined than that of the male Impressionists who were able to spend time in cafes and paint subjects of society life. From 1879 to 1886 she was one of only three women to exhibit with the Impressionists, and the only American woman. She received much more attention in France than she ever did in the United States. She is still the subject of major exhibitions, such as "Mary Cassatt, Modern Woman," which opened at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998. A traveling exhibition, it included 100 of the most beautiful of her paintings, the first traveling retrospective of her work in 30 years.

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