American printmaker and painter Mary Cassatt is known for her contributions to the impressionism movement and her later works depicting mothers and children. She also is known for her outspoken distaste of Fauvism and Cubism styles and her long friendship with painter Edgar Degas.
Though her contemporaries focused on landscapes and street scenes, Mary Cassatt favored portraits, usually of mothers and children in their homes. She drew inspiration from Degas, and they developed a lifelong friendship. This friendship led her to exhibit her paintings, which she did three times between 1879 and 1881. She stopped painting for a while to care for her dying sister, and when she returned to painting, began moving away from the impressionist style.
She became a patron to young American artists and advised collectors to buy American art, but only if they promised to donate their collections to American art museums. After a trip to Egypt in 1910, Mary questioned her abilities. That, coupled with the death of her brother, led her to give up painting for two years. In 1915, she began losing her eyesight, and when she died in 1926, she was nearly blind and miserable that she no longer could paint.
The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. features 10 of her paintings, including "Little Girl in a Blue Armchair," "The Loge," "Child in a Straw Hat," "The Boating Party" and "Mother and Child." These paintings represent nearly 30 years of her career and also showcase her flirtation with impressionism and portraits of mothers and children.