|MARY CASSATT: PORTRAIT OF AN
The Letter (1890 – 91) The Bath (1891 – 92)
Child with Red Hat (1901)
Miss Mary Cassatt, sister of Mr. Cassatt, president of the Pennsylvania
Railroad, returned from Europe yesterday. She has been studying painting
in France and owns the smallest pekingese dog in the world.
At the time this small item appeared in an 1898 edition of the Philadelphia Ledger, Mary Cassatt had already spent
28 years living abroad where “studying painting” had brought her critical and popular acclaim in the European art
world, a fortune large enough to afford her her own chateau outside of Paris, and the esteem of many of the
greatest artists and intellectuals of her time. Much of this was lost on a Victorian society that described women in
terms of family, social position and domestic accomplishments. That a well-to-do young lady of that period would
aspire to a career outside the home was downright shocking: that she would choose one that was the province of
males was nearly incomprehensible. That she would succeed so brilliantly was a miracle – a fortunate confluence of
discipline and independence, fortitude and sheer talent.
Mary Cassatt was the only American, male or female, to become a member of the group that revolutionized western
art -- the French Impressionists. Although the range of her subject matter was narrow, her technical skills and
willingness to experiment with the new led to daring departures that astonished even her fellow artists. By the time
she had developed her unmistakable “mature” style (long before her mention in the Ledger!) she had mastered
virtually every graphic medium – from oils and watercolor to pastels and printmaking – giving her own inventive spin
In this GalleryTime session we examine the life and work of this remarkable woman, whose example of courageous
independence and determination continues to inspire new generations of artists.
Child with Red Hat