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Networking Through Time: Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt Self Portrait

There are thousands of examples of networkers throughout history but several exceptional people stand out. Have you ever wondered how these exceptional people networked? How did they use their skills to create mutually beneficial relationships? Who was in their network and how did they meet the influential people in their lives?

Well, join us as we present to you Great Networkers Throughout History

First in our series is Mary Cassatt.

Cassatt was an American born French Impressionist. She is one of only three women in the movement and the only American. Most well known for her conservative painting of mothers with their children, however Cassatt’s own life did not resemble the quaint simplicity of her paintings.

Although she was born in Pittsburgh in 1844, Cassatt spent much of her childhood in Europe and by the time she was ten she was fluent in several languages. Her affluent family valued education and thought travel was the best way to encourage an interest in learning. After attending Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Cassatt, against her parent wishes, moved to Europe and traveled alone. She eventually settled in Paris and fell into the Bohemian lifestyle. It was during this time that she met Edgar Degas. She was walking by a gallery window when she caught a glimpse of Degas famous ballet dancers. Cassatt later reflected on this moment by saying,” I saw art as I wanted to see it. I began to live.”

At this same time Degas saw her pieces in the Paris Salon. The two met in 1874 and began a life long friendship. Degas invited her to join the impressionist and introduced her to art legends, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro.

Together they developed the impressionist movement and promoted their work, exhibiting in their own shows.

Cassatt contributed more than her artwork to Impressionism. She used her wealth to financially back the movement. She would buy her friends paints and encourage many of her affluent American friends to buy Impressionist art. In fact most of the Impressionist art in American collections is a result of her efforts.

After her tenure with the Impressionist, Cassatt continued to paint and travel. She spent time in Spain as a guest of Phillip II and worked as his painter.

In 1892 she was commissioned to paint a mural for the Women’s building at the Chicago Worlds Fair.

Later in her life Cassatt became a role model to young women and even mentored a young Lucy A. Bacon. Forced to give up painting because she was nearly blind Cassatt turned her attention to the women suffrage movement in 1914. She used her influence and networking abilities to support her friends and draw attention to the movement.

Cassatt died on June 14, 1926 near Paris leaving only her artwork and legacy behind.

As of 2005, her paintings had sold for as much as $2.8 million.

Cassatt’s most famous connection was Edgar Degas but who else was in her network?

Here is a list of the influential people who were most likely in Cassatt’s primary circle at various times in her life:

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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