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Picking Wildflowers

American Art

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Picking Wildflowers

Artwork Details


Rhoda Holmes Nicholls
American, 1854–1938


ca. 1900


Watercolor on paper

Accession #



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Currently Not on View


Although little known today, Rhoda Holmes Nicholls was an active and successful artist in her time. Her use of transparent washes and quick, Impressionistic brushstrokes reveals the influence of Winslow Homer and James McNeill Whistler. Common subjects in late nineteenth century American art, women and flowers were typically presented together as reminders of the fleeting nature of physical beauty. However, in this rendition of the theme, vibrant color and energetic brushwork convey the essential vitality of the scene. A sturdy female figure bends to gather flowers that grow wild in the countryside, rather than cultivated in a garden. And although the figure’s hat attracts attention by reflecting the sunshine, it also protects her from the viewer’s gaze.