Like her mentor Edmund Tarbell, Alice Ruggles Sohier’s interiors often included a tastefully dressed young woman seated in repose, and served as explorations of the effects of natural light on the figure and objects in a room. She also demonstrated an affinity for the evocative qualities of old New England furniture. As such, Woman Sewing is a quintessential example of Sohier’s work.
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Sohier’s artistic development was largely shaped by Tarbell, whom she considered to be her mentor, truest critic and later a close friend. She relied on their established teacher-student relationship during the early part of her career, and even later, while he was in Paris, Sohier would often write to Tarbell asking for his advice on painting. Indeed, Tarbell’s influence was clear early on, as noted by a Boston Evening Transcript review of her 1910 Museum of Fine Arts exhibition: “It is rather an unusual thing to see in the work of a pupil such a close approach to [Tarbell’s] finer qualities of style. In the single figures in interiors, the ‘Girl Reading,’ ‘Girl Mending,’ and ‘The Japanese Print,’ etc., there is the Tarbellesque reserve and distinction, the sincerity and simplicity, the charm of character, as well as those more technical merits which might have been looked for in a student’s performances…This exhibition, in a word, shows clearly that she is one of the most capable and sensitive painters in the brilliant succession of Paige traveling scholarship holders, and that her career will be watched with the closest interest.”
 “Miss Ruggles’s Work in the Museum of Fine Arts.” Boston Evening Transcript, March 9, 1910, 32.
Private collection, Lexington, Massachusetts