The talent, determination and perseverance of Mary Cassatt led to her becoming one of the world’s leading Impressionist painters and a major influence on American collectors during the twentieth century.
Cassatt also had the advantage of being born into a comfortable upper-middle-class family that gave her a superb education and the means to live, study and work in Paris, beginning in the 1860s.
Mary Cassatt at Sotheby’s
Sotheby’s New York will be offering Mary Cassatt’s Young Mother In A Floppy Hat And Green Dress With Her Child Outdoors at their upcoming American Art auction on May 21st. The 28 7/8 by 23 5/8 inch oil painting was first shown at the Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris. The pre-auction estimate for the painting is $1,500,000 — 2,500,000.
Mary Cassatt in Her Studio
Paris in the 1860s was a fertile ground for artists. Many artists met in cafes and clubs, attended figure drawing sessions and visited each others studios and galleries. Sadly, the 1860s were also a time when women, especially unaccompanied women, were not allowed in cafes and clubs, not permitted to attend figure drawing sessions and had to be careful about the studios and galleries they visited.
Though she was limited in her ability to draw or socialize in public places, Cassatt worked in her studio, painting portraits of women and children. She set her works in gardens and parlors, theaters and opera houses…socially acceptable places for the upper class women whom she painted to be seen.
It was Edgar Degas who bolstered Cassatt’s career when he invited her to join the independent group of artists known as Impressionists. Degas’ friendship and support led to many exhibitions in both France and America.
Ironically, Cassatt’s mother-and-child paintings were idealized scenes of domestic tranquility in upper class social settings that belied the disquiet that was taking hold, with women asking for voting rights, equal education, dress reform, better working conditions and other forms of social equality.
Mary Cassatt: Sketch of a Mother Looking Down at Thomas at the Surovek Gallery
Sketch of a Mother Looking Down at Thomas was one of a series of six pastels that Mary Cassatt did around 1863.
Elena Goukassian. Art’s Gender Divide in 19th-Century Paris. Hyperallergic. February 22, 2018.
Nancy Tuttle. ‘Breaking Point’ at Brush illustrates artist’s dilemma. Lowell Sun. May 1, 2019.
Karen Chernick. The Lives of Female Art Historical Figures Will Now Be Transcribed and Available Online. Hyperallergic. April 18,2019.