6 x 6"
oil on panel
It's high time I featured a woman artist - the very recognizable Mary Cassatt.
Cassatt was American, born in Pennsylvania in the mid-1800's, in a well-to-do banking family. She was one of seven children who were raised with high education, traveling and living in Europe for an extended period, all the while learning French, art and music. She was around 11 years old when she first saw the great French artists like Corot and Ingres among others.
Her family objected to her becoming a professional artist - regardless, she began studying art and painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philly - being one of the few women students in a male dominant environment. It wasn't easy for women at that time to be taken seriously so she moved to Paris at the age of 22, with her mother, and began more formative studies.
She returned to Pennsylvania for a while, tried to capture attention in several galleries, but was discouraged over and over until the Archbishop of Pittsburgh commissioned her to paint copies of the Italian artist, Correggio, and all expenses paid to travel back to Europe - which she happily accepted.
Cassatt continued her stay in Europe - suffered the same setbacks a woman had to deal with until her big break when Edgar Degas invited her to show her works with a group who called themselves The Impressionists. For years, she blossomed as an artist and relished their cause and notoriety.
I find the most interesting part of her life was in her later years, at around 66 years old, Cassatt traveled to Egypt, followed by a crisis of creativity (haven't we all felt that at one time) - so impressed with 'the strength of this Art' that it almost defeated her. She suffered from cataracts, crippling arthritis and diabetes but kept on painting but was forced to stop painting at the age of 70, as she was almost blind. She then took up the cause of women's suffrage, contributing to the movement by showing and selling her paintings.
Cassatt is best known for her depictions of women's daily lives and their closeness to their children - as seen in 'The Child's Bath' (featured in my painting) which hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago.