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She was a woman who soared to the stars across the firmament of the male-dominated international art world She was the only American male or female to become a member of the French Impressionists Most women of her time were confined to the circumscribed world of marriage homemaking and motherhood but not her Who is she She is Mary Cassatt certainly the greatest American female artist of her time and arguably the greatest artist produced by any nation Born in Pittsburgh on May 23 1844 this American artist studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia before traveling extensively throughout Europe The daughter of an affluent businessman Cassatts parents were not enthused with their daughters aspirations to become an artist preferring instead for her to return home to marry and settle down But the independent Cassatt made Paris her permanent home in 1874 the year of the first Impressionist Exhibition and Cassatts first Salon success She met Degas in 1877 and the relationship had an immediate effect on Cassatts work While she employed an impressionist style and exhibited at 4 of 8 Impressionist exhibitions her paintings express a uniqueness of their own Most famous for her mother and daughter paintings Cassatt also called upon other motifs which depicted the world around her Access to the cafes and corridors of her male counterparts were denied to women yet Cassatts paintings are expressions of her ability to circumvent these limitations and reflect another aspect of Parisian modern life She produced genre paintings and portraiture and Cassatts depictions of women are ones of independent and powerful beings The first three decades of Cassatts career was largely shaped by outside influences- art school in the 1860s the masters of realism in the 1870s and the French Impressionists in the 1880s The decade of the 1890s marks a period when her unique creativity and individual style at last emerged unfettered1 Cassett experimented with a new media that
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