Mary Cassatt received her early artistic training at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where she began studying in 1860 when she was just 16 years old. In 1865, the young artist left Philadelphia for Paris and took private lessons with Jean-Léon Gérôme, as women were not allowed to study at the Académie Julian. With the exception of a brief return to Philadelphia in 1870, during the Franco-Prussian war, Cassatt remained in Europe for the rest of her life, settling permanently in Paris in 1875. Just two years later, Cassatt became the only American artist to join the French Impressionist group, at the invitation of her friend Edgar Degas. She later recalled, “I accepted with joy. At last I could work with absolute independence without considering the opinion of a jury. I had already recognized who were my true masters. I admired Monet, Courbet, and Degas. I hated conventional art. I had begun to live” (quoted in Achille Segard, Un Peintre des Enfants et des Mères: Mary Cassatt, Paris, France, 1913, pp. 7-8). Cassatt’s association with the French Impressionists enhanced her reputation and her work was highly sought after by collectors on both sides of the Atlantic. Around 1900 Cassatt embarked on a series of works in oil and pastel depicting young girls in elaborate hats, a theme she would explore for the rest of her career. The colorful outdoor setting of Little Girl in a Stiff, Round Hat, Looking to Right in a Sunny Garden is a departure from the sketchy interior backgrounds Cassatt usually employed at this time. As Judith A. Barter observes, "Cassatt's deepening interest in nature, and women's relationship to it, coincided with a shift in her lifestyle, as she began after 1889 to spend more time in the French countryside, renting the Château de Bachivillers, near Gisors. In 1894 she purchased Beaufresne, a property in Mesnil-Théribus, to indulge her passion for gardening. Increasingly she presented women and children in outdoor settings rather than in domestic or public interiors" (Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman, Chicago, Illinois, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998, pp. 86-87).\nSigned Mary Cassatt, l.r.