Arts Everyday Living: Cassatt & Degas, Creative Quotes—He Said, She Said

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Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) and Edgar Degas (1834-1917)  knew each other for some 40 years. Here’s a sampling of what they said about each other.

There is someone who feels as I do

Edgar Degas upon viewing Cassatt’s work at the Paris Salon


I used to go and flatten my nose against that window and absorb all I could of his art.  It changed my life.  I saw art then as I wanted to see it.

Mary Cassatt to her friend Louisine Havemeyer remembering when she first saw Degas’ works at a local art shop


Edgar Degas, Two Dancers Entering the Stage, c. 1877-1878, pastel over monotype, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA

This distinguished person whose friendship I honor, as you would in my place, asked me to recommend to you the youth of the subject.  It is a young dog that she needs so that he may love her.

Edgar Degas, Request to Ludovic Lepic regarding a pet for Cassatt


I did it in 1878 or 1879—it ws the portrait of a child of friends of M. Degas—I had done the child in the armchair, and he found it to be good and advised me on the background, he even worked on the background--I sent it to the American section of  the Gr. Exposition 79 but it was refused. Since M. Degas had thought it good I was furious, especially because he had worked on it–at the time it seemed new, and the jury consisted of three people, of which one was a pharmacist!

Mary Cassatt, letter to art dealer Ambroise Vollard explaining the history of Little Girl in a Blue Armchair


Mary Cassatt, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, 1878, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


… woman had a right to draw a line like that.

Edgar Degas, quoted by Mary Cassatt, in a letter to Homer Saint-Gaudens, Carnegie Institute


Oh, I am independent!  I can live alone and I love to work.  Sometimes it made him furious that he could not find a chink in my armor, and there would be months when we just could not see each other, and then something I painted would bring us together again…..

Mary Cassatt , responding to Louisine Havemeyer, who was questioning Degas’ sometimes negative behavior



Edgar Degas, Young Woman Tying Her Hat Ribbons (Mary Cassatt), c. 1882, pastel and charcoal, Musee D’Orsay, Paris

1. Mary Cassatt: Un Peintre des enfants et des meres,  by Achille Segard, published in Paris, 1913.

2. Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer’s Remarks on Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, published by M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1915.

3. Degas Letters, editor Marcel Guerin, translated by Marguerite Kay, published by Bruno Cassirer, Oxford, 1947.

4. Letter to Ambroise Vollard, 1903, Archives of American Art.

5. Letter from Mary Cassatt to Homer Saint-Gaudens, December 28, 1922, Carnegie Institute, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

6. Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer’s Remarks on Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, published by M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1915.

The above images are used solely for educational purposes.

It provides a beautiful, “easy to comprehend” guide to the wonderful history and world of art.

Anna Stokes, Executive Director, Oasis

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