“I think that if you shake the tree, you ought to be around when the fruit falls to pick it up.” Famously spoken by Mary Cassatt, an American printmaker and painter.
She created images of the private and social lives of women, putting emphasis on the special bonds between children and mothers. Born in Allegheny City, PA (now part of Pittsburgh), Mary was raised in an environment that saw travel as essential integral to education. She spent 5 years in Europe, visiting many of the capitals, including Berlin, Paris and London. While she was abroad, Mary learned French and German; she also took lessons in music and drawing. It’s likely that Mary’s first exposure to the famous French artists Courbet, Corot, Delacroix, Auguste. and Ingres was at the 1855 Paris World’s Fair. Camille Pissarro and Edgar Degas – later Mary’s mentors and colleagues – also attended the exhibition. She drew courage from painter Degas, whose pastels inspired her to press on in her own direction. “I used to go and flatten my nose against that window and absorb all I could of his art,” she once wrote to a friend. “It changed my life. I saw art then as I wanted to see it.” She and Degas admired one another throughout their lives. Neither ever married.