Mary Stevenson Cassatt was an American impressionist artist, mainly active in France. She is considered to be one of the three main female figures of the impressionist era, together with Marie Bracquemond and Berthe Morisot. Born into a well-off family in Pennsylvania, she started studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts at the age of 15. Due to her frustrations with the school’s methods of teaching, she ended her studies early and moved to Paris in 1866. She exhibited at the Paris Salon for the first time in 1868, where she showed her painting A Mandolin Player. During the years to come, Cassatt experienced low points in her career and disagreed with the Salon’s way of conducting their exhibitions. In 1877 she was invited by Edgar Degas to show her works at the independent exhibitions of the Impressionists. Degas had a great influence on her work as he taught her new techniques such as printmaking. Functioning as an adviser to American art collectors, Cassatt helped Degas make a name for himself on the American art scene.
Cassatt’s paintings usually depict the everyday lives of women and their children. Her main forms of media are pastels, oil paint and different forms of printmaking such as etching, drypoint and aquatint. She was a strong supporter of women’s suffrage as she paved the way for many female artists to come.