Mary Cassatt was an American Impressionist painter and printmaker. Born to an affluent family in Pennsylvania, Mary Cassatt studied artwork at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The school encouraged students to study abroad and in 1865, Cassatt left for Paris. Here she studied in the studios of Jean Léon Gérôme and Thomas Couture. Outside the classroom, Cassatt copied old master paintings during her extensive travel throughout Europe. She decided to stay in Paris in 1874 and began regularly exhibiting at the Paris Salon. After seeing the pastel drawings of Degas in passing, she found herself drawn to the Impressionist movement. Upon Degas’ invitation, Mary Cassatt joined the movement and started creating paintings and prints in 1877. She was the only American in the group and mentored by both Degas and Manet. Like many of the Impressionists, she was also influenced by Japanese prints. Particularly moved by the work of Utamaro, she channeled his insightful renderings of the private life of women in the warm portrayal of motherhood in her own artwork. In describing Utamaro's work to her follow artists, Cassatt exclaimed, “you who want to make color prints, you couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful.” Due to failing eyesight, Cassatt ceased printmaking in 1901, followed by painting in 1904.
“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” - Friedrich