Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt was a impressionist printmaker and painter from Allegheny City; what is now Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Like most children in her town, growing up in a wealthy family allowed Mary to travel overseas as part of her studies at the young of 6 years old. While abroad, Mary was fortunately introduced to art through her schooling at an early age. As Mary studied the German and French language while in France, she also had lessons in art. At 11 years old, during the annual Paris Worlds Fair in 1855, Mary was privileged enough to meet artists Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Eugene Delacroix, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and Gustave Courbet. As Mary grew older and her knowledge of art expanded she became exposed to French impressionist artists that inspired her all throughout her young adulthood. After Returning to the United States she continued to practice art and painting despite the objection of her father. At the tender age of 15 without the support of her parents, Mary enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and continued her studies all throughout the American Civil War. Though Mary found great joy when studying and creating art, she left the academy because of the school's misogynistic views. In the year 1866 Mary was offered the opportunity to be flown to Paris to live and create great paintings. Like the P.A. Academy of Fine Arts, misogyny was no stranger to French art schools and many women weren't allowed to study at all. Because of Mary's determination to become a thriving impressionist painter she sought after art masters to study under. For years Mary studied her craft, making no profit whatsoever but her undying passion for creating art remained. Because Mary was a devout feminist, the vast majority of her paintings depicted strong women in their public or private lives; more often mothers nurturing their young children. There is no denying Mary Cassatt's influence on future female painters and despite the many obstacles she faced, she remained true to herself and the perfect feminist role model.

The Painting, "A Woman and a Girl Driving", just as the title describes, depicts a woman with a young female child driving a horse and carriage through what seems to be the woods or a park. If you've read about Mary Cassatt you'd know that she was a devout feminist so painting what looks to be a matriarchal family was of great importance to her. It is clear that she wanted onlookers to view women as equals to men.
Not much known of the history of this painting, but it appears as if Mary used short, thick brush strokes when applying the paint to the background, cheek, and neck area of the face. Towards the nose, eyes and forehead area it looks like she applied a stippling motion.
Although Mary's aesthetic was women and the relationship they had with their children, Mary no her sister Lydia ever married and had children of their own. Their consensus was that children and marriage would conflict with Mary's art profession.
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