In “Lady with a Bowl of Violets,” Lilla Cabot Perry demonstrated her love of light-infused Impressionist colors and bravura brushwork.

Painted after the Perry family returned from Tokyo, this composition features a Japanese woodblock print and simple floral arrangement behind the sitter’s head. The artist dramatically cropped both the print and flowers in a manner reminiscent of traditional Japanese art. Such art also inspired the curious and daring compositional emptiness of the left side of the picture.

Perry used the loose, painterly brushstrokes favored by Impressionists. With just a few broad strokes of paint, she conveyed the texture of the young woman’s skin and the heavy white lace trim on her gown. Vibrant orange highlights derive from the reflected light of the hearth.


  • Title: Lady With a Bowl of Violets
  • Creator: Lilla Cabot Perry
  • Date: ca. 1910
  • artist profile: Although she had no formal art training until age 36, Lilla Cabot Perry became a professional painter and a devotee of French Impressionism with a formidable body of work. Perry developed a solid reputation during her lifetime as a painter and a poet, helping to promote Impressionism in the U.S. and Japan. After marrying, Perry and her family traveled widely, living in Paris from 1887 to 1889, where Lilla studied painting. She also trained in Munich and copied old-master paintings in Italy, England, and Spain. It was in 1889, when she was 41 years old, that Perry saw her first Impressionist painting (a work by Claude Monet). Perry sought out the artist and became his close friend. For nine summers the Perrys rented a house at Giverny, near Monet’s, and although he never took pupils, he often advised Perry on her art. Between 1898 and 1901, the family resided in Japan. This experience gave Perry a rare opportunity to study the sources of Impressionism—notably Japanese fabrics and prints—in depth. There, she produced some 80 paintings; she continued to be prolific throughout her life. Perry exhibited her work at the Paris Salon and the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, and won medals for her paintings at important exhibitions in Boston, St. Louis, and San Francisco. She was active in numerous arts organizations and published four well-received volumes of verse.
  • Style: Impressionism
  • Physical Dimensions: w30 x h40.25 in (Without frame)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photography by Lee Stalsworth
  • External Link: National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts’ Exhibitions: “Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997,” 1997–98; “Lilla Cabot Perry: An American Impressionist,” 1990–91; “American Women Artists: 1830-1930,” 1987

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