Robert Reid
(1862-1929)

Robert Reid was an American Impressionist and the youngest member of the Ten American Painters. He was born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in 1862, and at the age of eighteen, he entered the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He studied there until 1884, also serving as an assistant instructor and the founding editor of the students’ journal, Art Student. In 1885, Reid travelled to New York and worked briefly at the Art Students League before moving on to Paris where he trained at the Academie Julian. He stayed in France for the next three years, studying and painting peasant genre scenes on the Normandy coast. Reid began to exhibit these genre paintings back home in 1889 with the Society of American Artists and the National Academy of Design.

During the 1890s, Reid underwent a “conversion” to the techniques of Impressionism. While it is difficult to pin-point precisely when this change took place, due to the scarcity of extant paintings by Reid from the early to mid-’90s, by the time he exhibited with the Ten in 1898, his work bore all the hallmarks of the impressionist style and had almost fully matured. Reid’s principal subject matter consisted of attractive young women with flowers; these works were highly decorative, painted with a bright, high-key color palette, using bold, ribbon-like brushstrokes. In many of these paintings, such as Fleur-de-Lys which was perhaps his most famous composition, the young woman appears to be almost embedded within the floral background so that the two elements become nearly indistinguishable.