Mary Cassatt was born in 1844 in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. She spent her childhood in Pennsylvania, and then lived with her mother in Europe from 1851 until 1858, studying in a number of cities including Paris, Parma, and Seville. Her first public success was in 1868 with a painting praised by a New York Times critic for its "vigor of treatment and fine qualities of color".
Cassatt attracted the attention of Edgar Degas, who invited her to join the artists dedicated to the "new painting", the Impressionists. From 1879 to 1886 she was one of only three women to exhibit with the Impressionists, and the only American woman.
Cassatt had her own subject matter, using her family members as models. Though a sensitive painter of women and even the occasional male subject, Cassatt achieved her greatest success in the depiction of maternity. Upon her death in 1926, Cassatt was honored by a number of memorial exhibitions, and remains one of the most acclaimed American-born artists.