National Museum of Women in the Arts
Lilla Cabot Perry
January 13 1848 - February 28 1933
Photograph of Lilla Cabot Perry with portrait of Phyllis Robbins, unknown date, unknown photographer. Unknown location
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
(L-EYE)-lah KAB-iht PAIR-ee
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Drawings and prints, Painting
Artistic Role(s):
Painter, Pastelist, Portraitist
Impressionism, Other
Artist's Biography:
As a member of a distinguished Boston family who received her first formal art training at age thirty-six, Lilla Cabot Perry was unlikely to become a professional painter, let alone a devotee of the French movement known as Impressionism. Yet she was able to develop a solid reputation during her lifetime as a painter and a poet, helping to promote Impressionism in the United States and Japan.

In 1874, Lilla Cabot married Thomas Sargeant Perry, a university professor of eighteenth-century English literature, with whom she had three daughters. The family traveled widely, living in Paris from 1817 to 1889, where Lilla studied painting at two well-known schools—the Académie Colarossi and the Académie Julian; she also trained in Munich and copied old-master paintings in Italy, England, and Spain. It was in 1889, when she was forty-one years old, that Perry saw her first Impressionist painting (a work by Monet) in a Paris gallery. The experience literally changed her life; Perry sought out the artist and became his close friend. For nine summers the Perrys rented a house at Giverny, near Monet’s, and while he never took pupils, he often advised Perry on her art.

For three years, between 1898 and 1901, the family resided in Japan, where Perry's husband taught at Tokyo’s Keiogijiku University. This gave Perry a rare opportunity to study the sources of Impressionism—notably Japanese fabrics and prints—in depth. There she produced some eighty paintings; she continued to be prolific throughout her life.

Back home, Perry worked in Boston during the year and on a New Hampshire farm during the summers. To supplement her husband’s income, she painted portraits and impressionistic landscapes. 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.

Other Occupation(s):
Curator , Lecturer, Poet, Traveler
Place(s) of Residence:
Place(s) of Activity:
Where Trained/Schools:
Académie Julian, Paris, France (1888-1889) Académie Colarossi, Paris, France (1887) Cowles Art School, Boston, MA, USA (1885-1886)
Related Visual Artists:
student of Alfred Quentin Collins student of Robert Vonnoh student of Dennis Miller Bunker student of Tony Robert-Fleury student of Alfred Stevens student of Fritz von Uhde friend of and influenced by Claude Monet friend of Camille Pissarro
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Founder-member, Guild of Boston Artists, Boston, MA, USA (1914) Bronze Medal, Louisiana Purchase International Exposition, St. Louis, MO, USA (1904) Member, International Society of Arts & Letters, Paris, France
Earliest exhibition:
Le Salon de la Société Nationale des Artistes Français, Paris, France (1889)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Lilla Cabot Perry: An American Impressionist
American Women Artists: 1830-1930
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997
Artist retrospective(s):
Lilla Cabot Perry: An American Impressionist, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, USA (1990-1991) Lilla Cabot Perry: A Retrospective Exhibition, Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York, NY, USA (1969) Memorial exhibition, Guild of Boston Artists, Boston, MA, USA (1934)
Related places
Hancock (died at)
Lady in an Evening Dress (Ren�e), 1911
Lady With a Bowl of Violets, ca. 1910
The Cobbler (Portrait of Luther N. Smith), 1928