Women Artist of the Impressionist Period.
In the late nineteenth-century, four artists of the Impressionist movement shared the challenge of being female and seeking acceptance as professional artists. These women of vast talent and ability have received increasing attention by scholars over the last 25 years. They each approached Impressionism in their own unique and individual ways. Although they did associate with each other on a professional and sometimes personal basis, they never formed a group based on gender. They also worked alongside some of the best-known male Impressionist artists, such as Monet, Manet, Degas, and Pissarro.
These four female Impressionists are Mary Stevenson Cassat (1844-1926), Berthe Morisot (1841-1916), Eva Gonzales (1849-1883), and Marie Bracquemond (1840-1916). Although they were women, it would be misleading to identify this group simply based upon their gender. They were each very different and had their own way concerning the arts and politics of that time. The majority of their collaborations were among the other male Impressionists rather than amongst themselves (The Women Impressionists: A Sourcebook, Intro Xiii).
There was a largely critical reaction to Impressionism as a whole, and these women artists were even more so ridiculed by the critics of that time. The challenges of their professional and personal lives proved to be too heavy a burden for the majority of these women, Mary Cassatt was the only one who maintained a successful career to the end of her life.
Mary Stevenson Cassatt was the daughter of a successful Pittsburgh businessman. Her fathers' love for France would prove influential to her education. She studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and then traveled Europe for some time, eventually settling in Paris in 1874. It was at this time that she met Degas, with whom she remained close friends.