Jane Brewster Reid (1862-1966)

Descended from the Mayflower, born in Chicago, and active in Rochester, New York, Jane Brewster Reid was a landscape painter who summered and painted on Nantucket from 1891, well into the 1930’s – just prior to and during the heyday of the young art colony. The artist worked in various media, producing watercolors, etchings and prints.

Like so many American artists of the day, J.B. Reid’s career was likely influenced by a renaissance in watercolor painting, begun at the hand of Winslow Homer. Until then, watercolor had generally been restricted to preliminary sketch-work for oil paintings or engravings, and though it was also valued for its portability in recording documentary travel journals, watercolor was considered the lesser medium. In 1873, Homer’s use of watercolor as a means of expression inspired a new vocabulary among American artists. The medium’s propensity for transparency, luminous washes and brilliant light enabled evocative atmospherics, idyllic chronicles of the fleeting effects of nature, and a newly poetic transcription of place; all well-suited for consumption by late Victorian tastes. Artists followed. The Golden Age of American Watercolor Painting had begun.

While Reid was active in Rochester, and painted during travels in England and Wales, the artist cultivated the attention of Nantucket’s growing summer community by presenting the island’s implicit charm. Summer gardens, lanes and cottages, Nantucket’s ever-popular icons: Stone Alley, the Old Mill, Sankaty Head Light, Swain’s Farm, and the village of ‘Sconset were among Reid’s favorite subjects. She painted many of her favorites in multiples, and found a ready audience at Miss Sylvia’s shop (Pleasant Street) and later at The Swimming Duck. (Centre Street) By 1907 Reid was an exhibiting member of the Boston Art Club. Her work has been or is represented at The Art Institute of Chicago, The Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, The Nantucket Historical Association and The Artists Association of Nantucket. Jane Brewster Reid lived to be 103 years old.

Carolyn Walsh ref: Ben Simon, Nantucket Historical Association

Weyer, Henry; Sea-Grit (1902)
Falk; Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975 (1999)
Dunbier; The Artists Bluebook (2005)
Simon, Ben, curator; The Nantucket Art Colony, 1920-1945, exhibition catalogue, Nantucket Historical Association

Recent Examples at Auction