Mary Cassatt spent most of her life and career in France, where she was an active member of elite social and artistic circles. In the late 1870s she forged friendships with innovative painters including Camille Pissarro and Edgar Degas, becoming the only American to be officially associated with the Impressionists. At the end of the nineteenth century, many artists turned to the "mother and child" theme as an updated version of the Madonna and child, but Cassatt made it her specialty. Through her experiments with painting, pastel, and printmaking, she captured the daily lives of women and children, uniting a traditional subject with new artistic techniques. Later works such as Maternal Caress often focus on the child, demonstrating Cassatt's sensitive observation of young people growing up in a modern world.
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