Open Air Concert
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Lilla Cabot Perry is a badass female artist.

After beginning her painting career at the age of 36, having already given birth to two children (with a third to come six years later), she quickly became a successful artist in high society. 

This painting is a great example of her style, which marks a turning point in the artist’s career. Open Air Concert (1890) depicts all three of Perry’s children: Margaret (playing violin, here 14 years old), Alice (looking at Margaret, here age 6), and Edith (age 10, looking out from the canvas). Perry painted this work just 6 years into her painting career, and after having only spent one summer with her friend and mentor Claude Monet (a man who she would soon overtake as far as financial success is concerned). Yet, despite this greenness, she has an amazing handle over the color, light, and composition. Bottom line: she’s a natural!

This painting launched what is arguably the most important decade of Perry’s personal growth in her work. In the 1890s she gave a series of lectures at the Art Students Association in her native city of Boston. In 1897, she had her first solo exhibition, which opened the doors to a career that would last for almost another 40 years until her death. Over that time, she continued to depict her three daughters, earning her many awards, accolades, financial successes, and allowing her the cultural cache to help found the Guild of Boston Artists.

While this painting looks distinctively Impressionist, and one could imagine that its woodsy background is a tree-lined New England town, or the edge of a property in the French countryside that features a fancy-shmancy chateau, Lilla in fact painted this piece while living in - of all places - Japan! She just becomes more and more interesting: a wealthy woman who took up the arts professionally at a “late” age, lived around the world, wrote, AND raised 3 children?! She is a model of the phrase “I don’t know how she does it."



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