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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Painting: 20th century: Life Mask (Abraham Lincoln)
Priscilla Roberts

Priscilla Roberts

(born Glen Ridge, NJ 1916 -- died Georgetown, CT 2001)

"I lead a life devoted to what I'm doing, that's the happiest life there could be. There's nothing to compare it with." Priscilla Roberts, 2001, The Wilton Bulletin, Ask Art Biography

Priscilla Roberts was inspired by the Dutch artist Jan Vermeer, and created precise paintings of still lifes that she described as "arch-realist." She started out as a commercial painter in New York, but didn't like working on demand, and in 1948 she moved to Wilton, Connecticut, and rented a small studio. Roberts scoured the antique shops, thrift stores, and streets of the town for objects to use in her paintings, and often spent many months composing just one still life. She surrounded herself with pets, and once calculated that she had adopted more than sixty cats during her lifetime. Roberts worked sixteen hours a day, waking up at three or four in the morning to paint, then taking a nap later in the day because "when you wake up from a nap you see your mistakes clearly." (2001, The Wilton Bulletin, Ask Art Biography)

Image Credits: Self-Portrait, Priscilla Roberts, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum Purchase, 1991.197.