Priscilla Roberts was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, in 1916 and during her childhood moved to New York City with her family. After studying briefly at Radcliffe College and Yale University’s School of Fine Art, she attended the Art Students League in New York City. She subsequently studied at the National Academy of Design, where she remained until 1943. Roberts was made a National Academician in 1957, and four years later her first solo exhibition took place at the Grand Central Art Galleries in New York. Roberts has been called a magic realist because of her often strange juxtapositions of precisely painted objects. Roberts lives in Wilton, Connecticut.
National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996)
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)