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Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt is one among many artists that greatly contributed to the well being of impressionism. She was born on the twenty second of May 1844. Her City was Allegheny Pennsylvania. It was clear through her lifestyle that she was born from a wealthy family. Her work was influenced by different factors. These are her family, gender and schooling. Research indicates that it was through her schooling that Mary was able to take care of her family appropriately. She was able to acquire skills like painting, sketching, embroidery and homemaking. Her life in the Europe also played a big role in influencing her career (Streissguth, 2000).

Although women of her time were not offered equal opportunities to education like men, Mary Cassatt was determined to compete with her male counterparts and ensure that she made it in her dream career. She knew exactly what she wanted, and that is what she worked for. Most people believed that women were not to be allowed access to education, arguing that the rightful place for women was home. Cassatt proved them wrong by joining Pennsylvania Academy at the age of sixteen. She wanted to pursue a career in fine arts. Her male course mates thought she was not an ideal student to pursue this course just because she was a woman. This is the reason why most of them frustrated her by calling her names.  It was due to this that she decided to relocate to Europe. In Europe, she decided to focus on studying Old Masters works (Streissguth, 2000).

Cassatt’s challenges did not only come from the society but also her family. Her father strongly objected her interest in studying Old Masters Works. He therefore decided to move her to Paris so that she could not be able to pursue her career. Her father’s disapproval did not stop her from achieving what her art desired. She therefore decided to undertake private lessons in art. It was due to the fear of her father that she decided to name her portrait that had impressed many as Mary Stevenson (Harris, 2007).

It was due to the Franco Prussian War of 1870 that Cassatt was forced to return to Philadelphia in order to join her family. This was quite discouraging because she could not be able access her artistic freedom when living with her family. While in Philadelphia, she could not be able to access supplies for her raw materials, in addition, her father was not willing to finance her artwork. Her struggles to raise money were not successful. It was through Pittsburgh’s archbishop that Cassatt was able to successfully pursue her career. This was through assigning her a task of painting different works of Correggio who was an Italian master. The commission she earned from this assignment enabled her to purchase different raw materials she needed for her painting.  The Paris Salon also played a major role in influencing the success of Cassatt’s career. It was through the Paris Salon that Cassatt was declared as a professional artist.  She studied in different countries; these are Rome, Belgium and Spain. She later decided to permanently settle in Paris (Hoena, 2006).

Her work received so much criticism from the public. This can be attributed to her gender. Most individuals thought that her use of bright colors on her painting was not appropriate in addition; some thought that her subjects were made of unflattering accuracy.  Edgar Degas always encouraged her to work harder towards success. He told her that it was not wrong for her to be unique in her painting. Cassatt greatly admired Degas works. It was through their interaction that they became close friends. Degas taught her more skills that enabled her to produce more quality works than before. She was force d to stop working in order to take care of her sick sister and mother. It was until the death of her sister in 1882 that Cassatt was able to resume to her work (Hoena, 2006).

As an impressionist, she mainly focused on portraits unlike other impressionists who were mainly interested in street scenes and landscapes. Cassatt was mainly intersected in painting the role of women in the society. These roles included babysitting and performing other domestic chores. According to Gemma Newmann, Cassatt’s objective was geared towards achieving force rather than sweetness. Her style made her become unpopular with other impressionists. Impressionists wanted her to paint her works as other impressionists and not focus on her own style. It was due to this that Cassatt seized being an impressionist. She thought it good to work on her own rather than being a member of a movement. Her flexibility in painting enabled her to identify different places (Harris, 2007).

Cassatt was interested in ensuring that other young artists became successful just like she was. Most of these young artists approached her for advice. Apart from offering them advice, she also sponsored them. She requested wealthy Americans to purchase the artworks of the young artists to ensure that they became successful in their career (Harris, 2007).

When she travelled to Egypt together with her family in 1910, she was greatly impressed with different magnificent art works they encountered. Cassatt realized that she needed to work harder in order to compete favorably with the other artists all over the world. Her brother’s illness prevented her from painting until 1912. After three years, she could not be able to paint due to diabetes. This illness had caused her blindness a fact that made it hard to continue with her painting. This was one of the greatest challenges she encountered as an artist. She later died on the fourteenth of June in 1926. She will be remembered as a great artist whose works have greatly influenced most artists all over the world (Hoena, 2006). 

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