Roses in a Vase

Mary Hiester Reid

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 766

The Pennsylvania-born Canadian artist, Mary Hiester Reid, is widely celebrated in her adopted country, if less well known in the U.S. Relocating from Reading to Philadelphia for artistic training, she first studied at the School of Design for Women, before taking classes with Thomas Anshutz and his teacher, Thomas Eakins, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. At the Academy, she met Canadian art student George Agnew Reid, whom she married in 1885. Following a four-month honeymoon in Europe, which included studies for Hiester Reid at the Academie Colarossi, the couple moved to Toronto, where they established a joint studio and private teaching practice. They also taught painting during the summers in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, as part of the Onteora Club, a select literary and arts community, established in 1887 by the Aesthetic design pioneer Candace Wheeler and her friend and business partner, Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Reids’ cultural lifestyle in Toronto echoed that of Onteora, especially when they settled in Wychwood Park, designing and building a home-studio in the garden community inspired by the principles of the Anglo-American Arts and Crafts movement. A few years before their move, the Reids helped found the Arts and Crafts Society in Canada.

Roses in a Vase (1891) dates from the decade in which Reid established her critical reputation as Canada’s premier, award-winning painter of floral still lifes; one Toronto journalist praised her composition as ‘more than an ordinary still life picture; it is poetry on canvas.’ A number of Canadian institutions acquired her works in these years, and she developed a special following among private collectors as well. This painting exemplifies the tonal harmonies and compositional rhythms that distinguish Hiester Reid’s art —particularly, in the lyrical whisper of the soft pink rose petals against the blue-and-white Chinese vase and the sweeping flower stem that gracefully cradles the largest blossom.

Roses in a Vase, Mary Hiester Reid (1854–1921), Oil on canvas

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