Boston, United States of America

Ethel Reed

Ethel Reed (1874-1912) was an American artist and model born in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Her father died when she was young, and she grew up in poverty with her mother. Reed developed her talent as an artist early in life, was a protégé of Laura C. Hills (Peterson 2013) and was educated at the Cowles Art School. She was most active during the 1890s, where she became famous within the Americas and Europe for her Art Nouveau illustrations which appeared in various books and magazines including The Yellow Book (Vol. 12), Fairy Tales by Mabel F. Blodgett, and Behind the Arras by Bliss Carman. Her work was noted for bold, curved lines, and often flirtatious themes (Sembach 2016).

Reed appeared a series of photographs appearing in the Boston Sunday Herald in 1895.  Fred Holland Day featured Reed in elegant dresses, and leopard skins. She quickly became a fixation of tabloids, attention which Reed reportedly encouraged (New England Historical Society 2018)

Throughout her life, Reed struggled with depression, insomnia, and suicidal urges (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya 2018). In 1896, after her engagement to fellow artist Philip Hale ended, she left Boston and travelled to England. At this point she left the public eye, however her biographer notes that she died in her sleep after taking a lethal combination of sleeping medications and alcohol in 1912 (Peterson 2013).

Yellow Nineties Personography:

Image credit: Johnston, Francis Benjamin. Ethel Reed. 1895. Wikimedia Commons. Accessed May 30th, 2020.


Works Cited

Ethel Reed. (n.d.). Ethel Reed. Retrieved May 31, 2020, from

Ethel Reed | Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2020, from

Ethel Reed, The Beautiful Poster Lady Who Disappeared. (2015, April 5). New England Historical Society.

Peterson, W. S. (2013). The beautiful poster lady: A life of Ethel Reed (1st ed). Oak Knoll Press.

Sembach, K.-J., & Scott-Stokes, C. (2016). Art nouveau: Utopia: reconciling the irreconcilable. Taschen.

Vanished in the Fog: Ethel Reed, the Beautiful Poster Lady. (n.d.). [Video]. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved May 31, 2020, from


Latitude: 42.360082500000
Longitude: -71.058880100000