Female Artist Spotlight: Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt was an American painter who was born in Pennsylvania, although she spent most of her life living in France where she befriended Degas and exhibited with the Impressionists.

Mary was one of a relatively small number of American women to become professional artists in the nineteenth century when most women, particularly wealthy ones, did not pursue a career. Her father, a banker, said that he would rather see her dead than work as an artist and refused to fund her art supplies.

When Mary arrived in Paris, an artistic revolution was underway in France. Changes were occurring in the way that artists showed their work to the public, and in the freedom artists had to choose their own subjects and styles. Mary mostly depicted the lives of women - especially the bond between mother and child.

Mary suffered from ill health later in life and was forced to quit painting.She was awarded the French Legion of Honor in 1906 and continued to fight for the women's suffrage cause despite having gone blind in 1914.

Mary died in 1927 - her works going on to sell for almost 3 million dollars at auction