Mary Cassatt was born in Pennsylvania, but lived much of her adult life in France where she befriended Edgar Degas and later exhibited among the Impressionists. Her fame comes from creating images of the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children. As a woman who never married, Cassatt forged a path for women artists to be outspoken and knowledgeable. She learned early on from her mother the importance of education and the need to be socially active and did so in stride, making sure everything she did in her career were on her terms.
This could be why Degas and Cassatt were such wonderful friends as they had much in common: they shared similar tastes in art and literature, came from affluent backgrounds, had studied painting in Italy, and both were independent, never marrying. Her independence is what today resonates in her artworks. As even though we see these woman portrayed in their societal roles, there is a note of emotion, of longing, of happiness, of a true reality being portrayed that no other artist could and can capture. She has inspired countless generations of artists and her artworks are worth millions, making her one of the most beloved and influential American artists of all time.