Jessie Drew-Bear

American, born England
Life Dates

Jessie Drew-Bear was born in England during the reign of Queen Victoria. Shortly after coming to Philadelphia from England in 1905, Drew-Bear opened the London Flower Shop, which she owned and operated for more than 40 years, at 18th and Chestnut Streets. She was known for her sophisticated, high-end flower arrangements and often provided flowers for gala events and parties. Drew-Bear owned her building, and for a period of time she painted in a second-floor studio above her shop.

Drew-Bear traveled extensively in Europe, Central America, and South America and would often rent an apartment or studio for several months. The financial success of her flower shop enabled her to travel regularly and she would bring along her painting supplies when she visited new places. She often sailed abroad with friends and her four-legged companion, Mignonne.

Although Drew-Bear did not participate in the mainstream artistic innovations of the 1940s and ’50s, namely Abstract Expressionism, s­­he was aware of art history and did interpret traditional subject matter such as still lifes, nudes, and self-portraits in her studio, as in the work at far left. While her work is joyous and whimsical, her artistic career was a serious endeavor. She actively sought out gallery representation and exhibition opportunities, and her work was acquired by prestigious collectors and gallery owners Sidney Janis and Albert Duveen.

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