Written by Angela Gonzalez, Curatorial Intern
Born on May 22, 1844, Mary Cassatt was the daughter of a wealthy family from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Although her family objected to her becoming a professional artist, Cassatt received artistic training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Frustrated by the slow pace of the curriculum and inadequate classes for women artists, Cassatt decided to move to Paris where she remained as an expatriate artist for more than forty years. She began private art lessons in the Louvre, where she would study and copy the old masters. At the age of 28, Cassatt’s works were accepted into the Paris Salon.
While many of her Impressionist contemporaries were consumed with artworks that displayed landscapes or street scenes, Cassatt chose to devote her compositions to intimate scenes between mothers and their children and portraits. She experimented with variety of mediums like paints, pastels and prints. Cassatt is well known for her use of pastels which allowed her to create subtle variations of color and texture. Simone in a Large Plumed Hat, part of The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens permanent collection, is a warming image of a golden haired child holding a small dog. The work is influenced by Cassatt’s fascination with Japanese woodblock prints. It is a counterproof, which is created by pressing a damp piece of paper against a pastel drawing.