Mary Stevenson Cassat (1844–1926) ─ an American painter and printmaker ─ was born, in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, where she enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts at age 16.
In 1866, she moved to Paris, which was to be her home for the rest of her life. She studied and painted in relative obscurity until 1868, when one of her portraits was selected at the prestigious Paris Salon, an annual exhibition run by the French government.
In 1870, the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, forced Mary to return home. There, she was contacted by the archbishop of Pittsburgh who wanted to commission her to paint copies of two works by the Italian master Correggio. Cassatt left immediately for Europe, where the originals were, on display in Parma, Italy. With the money she earned from the commission, she was able to resume her career in Europe.
In 1877, she befriended many Impressionist painters, and exhibited her works alongside theirs. She is the only American artist to accomplish such a feat. She was greatly influenced by Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, and especially Edgar Degas. She was one of the leading impressionists artists of the latter part of the 1800s.
Cassatt created images with a particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and child. Her portrayals of the human figures and their interactions were markedly different from her male counterparts. In 1893, she painted The Child's Bath which, with its then unorthodox composition, is considered one of her masterworks.
Cassatt utilized new techniques like cropped figures, bold outlines, and 2-D perspective, most likely derived from her passion for Japanese woodblock prints that was sparked after she saw Japanese woodcuts at the Beaux-Arts Academy in Paris during an exhibition.
Cassatt was a feminist from a young age. She was an activist and supported women’s suffrage. In 1915, eighteen of her works were shown in an exhibition supporting the movement organised by Louisine Havemeyer, a stalwart, active feminist.
After 1910, her increasingly poor eyesight, the result of her diabetes, virtually put an end to her serious painting. On June 14,1926 Mary died at Château de Beaufresne, near Paris,