Mary Cassatt was born May 22, 1843 in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania (USA) as the daughter of a banker. In 1851, at the age of 7, Mary Cassatt and her family moved to Paris and later Germany. In 1855 the family returned to their home city and Mary went to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
Mary wanted to become an artist but society wasn't very keen on a woman in this position, so she had to put in an effort to receive permission for becoming an artist. In 1866, at the age of twenty-two, she succeeded and returned to Paris. Once in Paris, Mary Cassatt started making copies of works in The Louvre and other museums. The young woman was obviously very talented as in 1872 she was accepted by the judges of the Salon.
Mary Cassatt met Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro and other Impressionists who were all refused by the Salon because of ther rebellious style. Therefore they started Le Salon des Refugées, a new salon in reaction to their exclusion. In 1877, Edgar Degas invited her to exhibit with fellow impressionists. Cassatt was particularly fond of the work of Degas, Manet and Courbet.
In 1882, Mary Cassatt's style took a sudden turn where she, influenced by Edgar Degas, began emphasizing line rather than form or mass and experimenting with asymmetric compositions. 1892 was her big breakthrough when she was commissioned for a mural at the World Fair in Chicago.
Mary Cassatt's grandest artistic period was in Paris. However Cassatt's works played a key role in the development of American Impressionism. The artist often exhibited in the United States and thus she was one of the introducers of Impressionism in her home country.
Because of failing eyesight, Mary Cassatt stopped painting in 1914. When Cassatt eventually died in 1926 at the age of 82 she had already become blind.