Still Life

about 1923
Gretchen Woodman Rogers (American, 1881–1967)


48.26 x 53.97 cm (19 x 21 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

Joseph P. and Anne B. Pellegrino Gallery (Gallery 223)





Rogers admits the viewer to a refined and elegant space whose autumnal tones augur a world that was beginning to disappear: a quiet, ordered, balanced realm of simple, tasteful objects. Two press-molded Sandwich glass dolphin candlesticks are placed on either side of a teapot (for comparison, see [1982.641]), a porcelain pot, grapes, and a blanc-de-chine figurine. The arrangement is set against a Japanese screen standing behind the table.

Like many Boston still lifes and genre paintings of the later 1910s, Rogers’s canvas, with its Japanese screen and Chinese figurine, reflects the vogue for orientalia in Boston, a city whose ties to the East dated to the eighteenth-century China Trade. Frank Weston Benson [1979.615], Edmund Tarbell [09.209; 1985.66; 2007.384], Adelaide Cole Chase [2002.378], and Hermann Dudley Murphy [43.30] all painted still lifes and portraits around this time that included oriental objects or motifs.

Rogers grew up in Boston and trained at the Museum School from 1900 to 1907 where she studied with Tarbell, one of the leaders of the Boston School of painters. These artists saw themselves as guardians of skill, craftsmanship, and beauty during an era when modernism and abstraction were increasingly challenging traditional definitions of art. In addition to still life, Rogers also painted portraits, genre scenes, and landscape. She exhibited canvases at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915 where her canvas, Woman in a Fur Hat [1972.232], won a silver medal. Rogers gave up painting at the end of the Depression and little is known about her subsequent life.

This text was adapted from Karyn Esielonis, et al, “Still-Life Painting in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston” (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, 1994)


Lower left: Gretchen W. Rogers


The artist; to MFA, 1986, gift of the artist.

Credit Line

Gift of the artist