Women’s History Month: Focus on Mary Cassatt and Sarah Caldwell

Mary Cassatt [1844-1926]

–Cassatt lived most of her life in France although she has been credited as the first American woman artist to achieve success.

–She grew up in a wealthy family in the Philadelphia area and had the means to travel.

–She studied for a short time at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts but soon decided to move to Paris in 1866 where Edgar Degas became her primary supporter.

–Cassatt became part of the French impressionist artists of the time.

–Her exhibit for the Society of American Artists became the first impressionism Americans had seen.

–After the 1880s, Cassatt began painting mother and child themed paintings, veering away from the impressionists. She is best known for those paintings today.

Sarah Caldwell [1924-2006]

–Caldwell grew up in Arkansas. A child musical prodigy, she gave public performances on the violin by the time she was ten years old. She also graduated from high school at age 14.

–In 1944, Caldwell graduated from Hendrix College and soon moved to Boston to study at the New England Conservatory of Music.

–Caldwell became head of the Boston University opera workshop in 1952 and started the Boston Opera Group in 1957 [that became the Opera Company of Boston].

–In Boston, Caldwell conducted and/or stage directed included La voyage de la lune, Othello, Command Performance, Manon and Faust, Intolleranza, Hippolyte et Aricie [U.S. stage premiere, with Placido Domingo] Norma [with Beverly Sills]

— In 1976, Caldwell became the first female conductor at the Metropolitan Opera.

–She was also a  leader of the 1970’s feminist movement.

I’m getting most of my information on these women for Women’s History Month from
American Women’s History by Doris Weatherford

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