Mary Cassatt (American, 1845-1926), Study for “The Sun Bath,” n.d., Oil on canvas, 15 x 23 inches, Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Extended loan from the Joan M. MacGillivray 1957 Trust GMOA 2002.115E
Mary Cassatt was born (May 22) in 1844. She was an American painter and printmaker best known for her Impressionist work. At the age of 15 she began studying painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts despite her father’s objection to her becoming a professional artist. She then moved to Paris in 1866, where she began her study with private art lessons in the Louvre. Here she befriended Edgar Degas. Regarded as the one of the founders of Impressionism, he had significant influence on Cassatt’s etching work. She also became proficient in the use of pastels, and many of her most important works are in this medium. Her increasingly poor eyesight virtually put an end to her serious painting, and she died in 1926.
Cassatt's popular reputation is based on an extensive series of rigorously drawn and tenderly observed images of the private lives of women with an emphasis on the intimate bonds between mother and child.