Mary Cassatt was born into an affluent family in Pennsylvania on May 22, 1844. She originally studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. At the time, it was one of the United States best art schools, but Mary Cassatt felt it would be better for her to study on her own terms. In 1865, Cassatt expressed to her parents that she wanted to complete her studies in Paris.
Cassatt was not happy with the slow educational pace of the US art scene. She wanted to learn from the old masters and not with academic lectures. She began to study and copy the works of art she found at the famous Paris museum The Louvre. In just two short years, she would have a painting displayed at the prestigious Paris Salon.
Cassatt was forced to move back home in 1871 due to war. She tried to paint, but her father was not supportive of here career choices. He refused to finically support any of her work. She was not allowed to sell her paintings, and the Great Chicago Fire tragically burned a large amount of her work. She may have seen great success in Europe, but Cassatt could not gain a footing in her home country.
Near the end of her life, Cassatt lost the ability to see. This was most likely due to being diabetic. This sent her into a depression because the loss prevented her from creating more artwork. For the last decade of her life, she felt robbed because she could no longer do what she loved.
Mary Cassatt used her influence to help mentor many young US artists throughout her life. She was also an advocate for upcoming artist, encouraging the high social classes to purchase artwork from new painters. Her efforts helped the creative community grow, and her artwork and efforts encouraged millions to come.