Mary Cassatt: A Life: A Life

Nancy Mowell Mathews, Author
Nancy Mowell Mathews, Author Villard Books $28 (383p) ISBN 978-0-394-58497-3
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-8109-2524-3
Hardcover - 207 pages - 978-0-8109-1049-2
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At the age of 21, Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) disregarded the opposition of her wealthy Pennsylvania family and went to France to study painting, remaining there for most of her life. In this admirable biography, art historian Mathews ( Mary Cassatt: The Color Prints ) presents a compelling portrait of this contradictory woman. Cassatt joined the impressionists but always lived as a well-bred lady, never as a bohemian; gained fame with sensitive portraits of mothers and children yet never married or had children; and was frequently visited by family and friends from the U.S. who became caught up in her brilliant career in spite of her difficult and outspoken personality. Concentrating on Cassatt's devotion to her work and her often stormy personal relationships, including her friendships with the irascible painter Edgar Degas as well as with numerous wealthy Americans, some of whom she helped to acquire collections of impressionist art, Mathews treats Cassatt as a thoroughly professional painter, and shows how this single-minded and independent woman set her sights on high artistic goals and spent her life attaining them. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (Mar.)
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