Mary Cassatt (1844–1926) was an American impressionist painter and printmaker, a great portion of her work depicting the private life of women and the mother child relationship. Cassatt spent much of her time in France, at which time she met Edgar Degas and many other impressionists. Cassatt grew up in a household that viewed travel as crucial to education and, as such, spent five years in Europe, traveling to different cities. Her first exposure to French artists was most likely at the World Fair in Paris in 1855.
In 1870, after returning home from living in Europe due to the Franco-Prussian War, she almost gave up her art, partially because of the lack of support from her father, but ultimately ended up heading back to Europe in 1871 and continuing with her painting career working within the style of impressionism, a style that was largely dominated by men.
At a later point in her life, Cassatt came to Florence to further pursue her art. Although they had many mutual friends in London and Paris, Cassatt met Vernon Lee in 1895 when Cassatt visited her at her home in Mesnil-Theribus to discuss her new colored prints. It was at this time that Cassatt painted a portrait of Vernon Lee and dedicated an engraving to her.