Two women at the Opera one with opera glasses.

The Impact of Mary Cassatt’s Art Across the Globe

 Mary Cassatt, an American Impressionist, paved the way in the art realm, leaving a profound mark worldwide. As an American artist, Cassatt's remarkable legacy continues to be celebrated. Her talent in crafting timeless pieces made her a pivotal figure in the Impressionist era. Cassatt's artistic journey led her to immortalize beauty on canvas, bridging the gap between traditional and contemporary styles, including the European and American approaches. Her artistry lay in her knack for capturing life's fleeting moments and raw emotions, deeply connecting with viewers. Cassatt's willingness to explore and adopt groundbreaking painting methods birthed a unique art style that garnered global admiration. Today, her artistic contributions remain celebrated and cherished.

Woman Reading Book

The Reader by Mary Cassatt 1877 Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

When It All Begins: A Relationship with Degas

Mary Cassatt's relationship with Edgar Degas was an important one in her artistic development. Cassatt had an appreciation for the modern movement in art and was already well-versed in French paintings. Degas allowed Mary to explore this artistic style further and taught her about his developing style, printmaking, and different approaches to art. This experience was crucial for Cassatt's development of her own personal artistic style as well as her pioneering advocacy for the status of women in the art world. This experience with Degas was eventually reflected in her own artwork like her depictions of mothers and children. Through her relationship with Degas, Mary Cassatt was able to gain an immense amount of art experience and knowledge which ultimately enabled her to become one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

Mother holding small child and playing

Under the Horse Chestnut Tree by Mary Cassatt, 1898, drypoint and aquatint print, 19 x 15 in., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Her Contributions to Impressionism

Mary Cassatt stands out as a luminary in the world of art, particularly for her significant contributions to the impressionist art style and technique. Her distinctive style was cultivated through rigorous studding of the master's oil paintings, printmaking, and the rich experiences she garnered during her travels across Europe. Cassatt's expertise wasn't just limited to portraiture; she ventured into various genres, consistently introducing innovative methods and perspectives.

As an American living abroad, Mary Cassatt infused her unique perspective into the European Impressionism movement, offering a fresh take that was influenced by both her American roots and her exposure to European and African art. This blend of cultures and experiences made her work resonate with a global audience, inspiring countless artists in various parts of the world.

One of Cassatt's most iconic contributions to art is the development of the "Mother and Child" motif. This theme, recurrent in her work, is celebrated for its vibrant and bold use of colors. More than just a visual treat, her portrayal of the "Mother and Child" delves deep into the intricacies of family relationships, presenting a holistic and inclusive view of familial bonds. The motif, under Cassatt's deft hands, became a symbol of universal love, care, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and her offspring.

Woman with her child on her shoulder

Woman in a Red Bodice and Her Child (c. 1896), Brooklyn Museum

Feminist Viewpoints and the "New Woman"

Mary Cassatt was a groundbreaking feminist artist best known for her impressionistic style and her innovative approach to depicting the experience of women throughout the world. During her lifetime, Mary Cassatt was known as a “New Woman” who developed her own styles of art and was an advocate for women's rights. Her artwork used female subjects in various positions to create powerful and meaningful works that were revolutionary for their time. Her paintings resonated with millions of women across cultures and throughout the Western world, pushing the boundaries of traditional views on gender roles. Through her use of color, shape, and composition, Cassatt was able to express the experience of women in an emotive way that has had global implications for how women’s rights and issues are viewed today.

Woman offering a bullfighter a glass of wine.

Offering the Panal to the Bullfighter (1873), oil on canvas, Clark Art Institute

Her Impact on American Art Museums

Her artistic creations have woven themselves into the very fabric of the American cultural narrative. Today, her paintings and prints hold esteemed positions in museums nationwide, standing as testaments to her unparalleled talent and vision.

Cassatt's artistry was not just about creating visually appealing pieces; it was about evoking emotions, telling stories, and capturing intimate moments of the human experience. Her innovative styles and techniques were groundbreaking in their time, emphasizing the portrayal of personal experiences through art. Each brushstroke, each color choice, and each composition were meticulously crafted to resonate with the viewer, often evoking deep emotions and sparking thought-provoking discussions. Her ability to encapsulate the essence of a moment or emotion made her works timeless, transcending generations.

Moreover, Cassatt's impact was not limited to her immediate circle. Her influence rippled outwards, shaping the broader American art movement. Her emphasis on personal experiences and emotions in art became a cornerstone for many artists, leading to a more introspective and personal approach to art creation.

Self-Portrait Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt, Self-Portrait, c. 1880, gouache and watercolor over graphite on paper, 32.7 cm x 24.6 cm, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Her Impact in European Art Museums

Mary Cassatt's artistic contributions have left an indelible mark on the European art scene. As her style evolved, it seamlessly blended with the ethos of the Impressionist movement, enchanting art enthusiasts throughout Europe. Emerging from the late 19th century, Cassatt was among the rare American artists who not only gained recognition but also significantly influenced the European art narrative.

Her masterpieces have graced the walls of some of Europe's most prestigious museums. From the renowned Musée d'Orsay in Paris to other esteemed institutions across the continent, her art has been showcased prominently, allowing a diverse audience to immerse themselves in her world. Whether a local art lover or a traveler from distant lands, visitors have been consistently mesmerized by Cassatt's work.

Mary Cassatt's art has not only been celebrated for its aesthetic appeal but also for the emotions it evokes. European museums have been proud custodians of her work, ensuring that her legacy continues to inspire and captivate. Generations of art enthusiasts, scholars, and casual viewers alike have been privileged to experience the magic of Cassatt's artistry, making her an enduring figure in the annals of European art history.

A short list of European Museums that have her work are: 

  1. Musée d'Orsay in Paris
  2. Louvre Museum 
  3. Petit Palais
  4. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux
  5. Musée Jacquemart-André 
  6. Musée des Impressionnismes

Little Girl with Hat

Portrait de fillette, Mary Cassatt Musée des Beaux-Arts 1849

You Will Find Mary Cassatt As Far As Japan

Mary Cassatt's artistic influence has notably extended to Japan, where she is revered as a pivotal figure in the country's art history. Her masterpieces, reflecting intricate brushwork and evolving techniques, are prominently displayed in various Japanese art institutions. Among these, the Yokohama Museum of Art has held a retrospective exhibition celebrating Cassatt's contributions. This showcase not only highlighted her unique artistry, from her intimate portrayals of motherhood to her pastel-infused depictions of romance, but also featured works by other renowned artists like Edgar Degas and Berthe Morisot. These pieces were presented alongside Japanese Ukiyo-e prints, underscoring the mutual influence between Impressionism and traditional Japanese art. As such, for those keen to experience Cassatt's legacy in Japan, the Yokohama Museum of Art in Yokohama stands as a testament to her enduring global appeal.

Mother giving her child a bath

The Child's Bath 1893

Finding Her Influence Continues Today

Mary Cassatt's influence is undeniably present in the art world today. As an iconic figure in the American Impressionist movement, her works inspired generations of artists to develop their own distinct styles. Her influence can be seen not only in the Western art world, but also in the Eastern world, including Japan and China. Even after her death, her portrait works continue to inspire artists across the globe to produce extraordinary works of art. Her techniques are still studied and admired by aspiring artists, and art connoisseurs alike. In modern-day art exhibitions and experiences, her works still garner attention and awe. Her works instill a sense of admiration for the craft and talent needed to truly create something timeless. Mary Cassatt has had a lasting impact on the world of art, and her influence will continue to be felt for generations to come.

Beyond her own creations, Mary Cassatt's presence in the art world served as a beacon for emerging artists. She was not just an artist but also a mentor and inspiration. Her fearless approach to challenging conventional art norms and her continuous exploration of new techniques encouraged many budding artists to break free from traditional confines. They were inspired to experiment, to find their own voice, and to develop unique styles that reflected their individual perspectives.

In the annals of art history, Mary Cassatt's name shines brightly. Her indelible contributions have left an enduring legacy that continues to inspire, educate, and captivate. Even today, her works serve as a bridge, connecting past and present, and reminding us of the profound impact one artist can have on a nation's cultural identity. Her legacy is not just in the canvases she left behind but also in the generations of artists she inspired and the countless art enthusiasts she touched with her masterpieces.

Woman sitting on a park bench

Portrait of Mlle C. Lydia Cassatt, The Artist's Sister 1880 : Petit Palais, Paris, France


In the vast tapestry of art history, Mary Cassatt emerges as a luminary whose influence has spanned continents, from the bustling art scenes of Europe to the serene galleries of Japan. As a pioneering American Impressionist, Cassatt's legacy is celebrated globally, with her masterpieces adorning the walls of prestigious institutions like the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, the Louvre, and the Yokohama Museum of Art in Japan. Her artistry, characterized by its intricate brushwork and innovative techniques, has captivated audiences, offering a window into her world of intimate maternal bonds, pastel-infused romance, and evocative portrayals of everyday life.

Cassatt's collaborations, particularly with Edgar Degas, played a pivotal role in shaping her unique style, blending the modernity of French paintings with her own evolving sensibilities. This synergy is evident in her iconic "Mother and Child" motif, a testament to her ability to delve deep into the human experience. Furthermore, her advocacy for women's rights and her portrayal of the "New Woman" showcased her progressive views, making her works resonate with contemporary issues even today.

From the European heartlands to the East, Cassatt's influence is undeniable. Her works, whether in the Musée Jacquemart-André or the Musée des Impressionnismes, continue to inspire and educate, serving as a testament to her enduring impact on the global art narrative. As we reflect on her contributions, it's evident that Mary Cassatt's legacy is not just confined to her paintings but is also alive in the artists she inspired, the discussions she sparked, and the timeless beauty she immortalized on canvas.

To experience more Mary Cassatt art we offer a virtual art experience.  Click here to learn more about this art tour.


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