Many people who have studied and written about Mary Cassatt think she was greatly influenced by her intelligent and active mother, Katherine, who believed in educating women to be knowledgeable and socially active. A lifelong family friend wrote: “Anyone who had the privilege of knowing Mary Cassatt’s mother would know at once that it was from her and her along that Mary inherited her ability…she was powerfully intelligent, executive and masterful, and yet with that sense of duty and tender sympathy that she had transmitted to her daughter.”
As we anticipate the celebration of Mother's Day, it’s fitting to applaud this strong, supportive mother and her talented and independent daughter!
This painting shows Mrs. Cassatt reading the French newspaper, Le Figaro.
Mary’s artistic talent was undeniable, but it took many years of toil for her work to be recognized. Eventually she earned the respect of leading Impressionist artists of the day, and was asked to exhibit with them in 1879. As of 2005, her paintings have sold for as much as $2.87 million!
Although Mary never married and had children of her own (she had decided early in life that marriage would be incompatible with her career) mothers and children were favorite subjects for her work, especially during the 1880’s and 1890’s. The bond between mother and child is one of the strongest forces on earth, and Cassatt’s lovely paintings capture the tenderness, intimacy and timelessness of a mother’s love.
You can delve into Mary's life and see more examples of her art at http://marycassatt.org.
In what ways are you like your mother? How does she influence you?
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