As a woman in a male-dominated field, Elizabeth Nourse’s immediate success and her ability to support herself without the necessity of marriage or a second career in teaching speaks to her dedication and tenacity. When she arrived in Paris, she had already established her personal approach to painting, which combined strong draftsmanship and a refined handling of light and shade, and she also had a clear idea of the subjects important to her, those of women and children and the routines of everyday life. Many of these paintings were likely inspired by summers spent in the more rustic environs of Saint-Léger-en-Yvelines, located southwest of the capital, where Nourse and her sister Louise rented a small cottage and where the artist could sketch among the residents and capture quieter moments of maternal intimacy.
More information about this painting...
Painted in 1911, Etude, Fleurs was exhibited at the Paris Salon in the same year and reveals Nourse’s talent for finding beauty among the most ordinary of subjects. Using dexterous brushwork and her skill for rendering the play of light and shadow, the artist enlivened this glimpse of a quiet corner of a modestly decorated room, even capturing the movement of the goldfish in the clear water. The painting relates to a similar piece created by Nourse around 1910 titled La Reverie, featuring one of the plants on a windowsill and the figure of a woman contemplating the fishbowl, which is now in the collection of the University of Cincinnati.
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Edward W. Ryan, Cincinnati, Ohio, from 1980
To private collection, New York, New York
(top stretcher in pencil) E. Nourse
1). Paris Salon, Paris, France, 1911, No. 1015
2). Elizabeth Nourse, (1859-1938): A Salon Career, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, January 14 – April 17, 1983, No. 41 (catalogue 241, No. E-76)