The American impressionist Mary Cassatt spent her career in Europe, settling in Paris. Stifled by tradition, she regarded her exposure to the work of Edgar Degas in 1874 as a "turning point in my artistic life." After her rejection by the Paris Salon of 1877, Cassatt welcomed Degas's invitation to exhibit with the impressionists in 1879. Cassatt shared their interest in the depiction of modern life and their commitment to developing innovative methods to capture fleeting moments. A lifelong friend of Degas, she served as model for him on a number of occasions. Despite her high regard for his work, Cassatt later dismissed this portrayal, commenting: "It has artistic qualities but is so painful and represents me as a person so repugnant that I would not wish it to be known that I posed for it."


  • Title: Mary Cassatt
  • Creator: Edgar Degas
  • Date Created: c. 1880-1884
  • Physical Dimensions: w60 x h73.3 x d3.8 cm (Stretcher)
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and the Regents' Major Acquisitions Fund, Smithsonian Institution
  • External Link: https://npg.si.edu/portraits
  • Classification: Painting

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