Anne Estelle Rice (1877–1959), sculptor and artist, was one of the chief illustrators for the British periodical Rhythm, edited by John Middleton Murry and Michael Sadler from 1911 to 1913. She established a close relationship with Katherine Mansfield, and famously painted her wearing red at Looe in Cornwall.
Rice was born in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania in 1877 and grew up in Pottstown. She studied at the School of Industrial Art of the Pennsylvania Museum and studied there for three years from 1894 before going on to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where she studied sculpture and life drawing with Charles Grafly, William Merritt Chase and Thomas Anshutz. She began contributing illustrations to a number of magazines, including Collier’s, Harper’s, and the Saturday Evening Post.
In 1905 Rice went to Paris to illustrate the latest fashions for Philadelphia’s North American magazine. In the summer of 1907 she met the Scottish painter John Duncan Fergusson who encouraged her to become a painter. Exposed in Paris to Post-Impressionism and Fauvism, she adopted a vivid palette and used red or blue contouring lines. From 1910 she began to use pure primary and secondary colours.
After showing her painting The Egyptian Dancers (1910), she was claimed by the American press as the leader of a new school of art.
In 1909, Rice was one of three artists invited by American merchant John Wannamaker to provide decorative murals for a new store that he was opening in Philadelphia. To make the work she had to take on a very large studio at 87 rue Denfert-Rochereau in Paris where she worked until the end of 1913 to produce seven panels depicting figures, mostly women, in classical garden settings. Rice’s murals were removed when the store was remodelled in the mid-1950s, and were lost, presumed destroyed.
During this period, together with Fergusson, S. J. Peploe, and other members of the Fergusson circle, she exhibited at the Ashnur Gallery in Paris. She showed at the Salon d’Automne from 1908 through 1913, and at the Salon des Independents in 1911 and 1912. London’s progressive Baillie Gallery gave Rice major exhibitions in 1911 and 1913. Her work was also included in salons of the Allied Artists Association in England.
In 1912 she met the American author Theodore Dreiser in Paris and they became intimate friends and correspondents. Also in Paris in 1912 Rice met her future husband, the English art and theatre critic Raymond Drey. They married in 1913 and began to make their home in England. The First World War adversely affected Rice: many of the American art dealers and collectors who showed an interest in her work stopped buying pictures.
From the 1920s Rice painted still lifes, exhibiting at the Leicester Galleries and the Wildenstein Gallery in England. She kept up her visits to France, and sold paintings to collectors in the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Germany.
Rice was intensely interested in the theatre, often making theatrical costumes and sets the subjects of her drawings, and in the 1930s she designed the sets and costumes of several London operatic and dramatic productions.
Rice’s work is represented in numerous private collections in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as in University of Hull Art Collection; Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, Wellington, New Zealand; and the Government Art Collection, England.