While reading about Mary Cassatt, I learned about her struggles as a female artist. She had to overcome the prejudice against women painters as well as the obstacles the Impressionists faced seeking acceptance as a new art form. She never gave up, but at a low period she was commissioned by the Archbishop of Pittsburgh to paint two copies of paintings by Corregio. He sent her to Parma, Italy, and at the time she wrote, "Oh, how wild I am to get to work, my fingers farely itch and my eyes water to see a fine picture again." (Spelling was not her strong point)
Her career continued to have highs and lows, and eventually she became a close friend and collaborator of Edgar Degas, who mentored and influenced her work.
Mary Cassatt was a feminist and supported women's suffrage; despite discouragement from her family and society she persevered and became one of the most well-known artists of her time. It's a familiar story of an artist bucking "the system" to achieve success.
The model for the above painting was Mary's sister Lydia.