Unidentified photographer, Irene Rice Pereira, ca. 1950. Papers of I. Rice Pereira, 1931-1981. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.
Irene Rice Pereira, Omega from the portfolio 21 Etchings and Poems, ca. 1951-58. Etching and lift ground aquatint, sheet : 20 x 17 in.; images: 13 ¾ x 11 ¾ in. Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, Museum purchase, The Nancy Gray Sherrill, Class of 1954, Collection Acquisition Fund, 2007.155.16 Courtesy of Djelloul Marbrook, Estate of Irene Rice Pereira.

70. Irene Rice Pereira

Life Dates1902-1971
Place of BirthChelsea, MA, USA
Place of DeathMarbella, Spain
Birth NameIrene Rice

The abstract painter, Irene Rice Pereira, was born in 1902 and was the eldest of Emmanuel and Hilda Rice’s four children.1 After her father’s early death in 1918, the Rice family moved from Massachusetts to Brooklyn, New York. During the late 1920s, she married the commercial artist Humberto Pereira, and she also studied at the Art Students League with Richard Lahey and Jan Matulka.2 The former’s classroom provided access to a stimulating network of other students interested in avant-garde expression, including future Atelier 17 member Dorothy Dehner.3 Pereira developed a robust career during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s and turned increasingly away from realism towards geometric paintings executed on layers of glass. Pereira’s involvement with Atelier 17 was limited to the print she contributed to 21 Etchings and Poems.4 Initiated by Peter Grippe, director of Atelier 17 from 1952 to 1954, the portfolio featured twenty-one intaglio prints which were collaborations between visual artists and poets. Pereira’s print accompanied a poem titled “Omega” written by her then-husband, the Irish poet George Reavey (1907-1976).5 The project was stalled for financial reasons and finally came out in 1960 through under the imprint of gallerist/publisher Morris Weisenthal.6 Pereira did not make many other prints in her lifetime; the only notable exception is her portfolio of screenprints called The Lapis which came out under the imprint of George Wittenborn in 1957.


Papers of I. Rice Pereira, 1931-1981, MC 867, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. 

Selected Bibliography

Bearor, Karen A. Irene Rice Pereira: Her Paintings and Philosophy. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993.

———. Irene Rice Pereira’s Early Work: Embarking on an Eastward Journey. Coral Gables, FL: Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, 1994.


  1. For comprehensive analysis of Pereira’s life and career, see Karen A. Bearor’s publications: Irene Rice Pereira: Her Paintings and Philosophy (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993); Irene Rice Pereira’s Early Work: Embarking on an Eastward Journey (Coral Gables, FL: Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, 1994).
  2. Student registration cards, Art Students League of New York.
  3. Dorothy Dehner, “Memories of Jan Matulka,” in Jan Matulka, 1890-1972 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1980), 77–80.
  4. Bearor, Irene Rice Pereira, 286 n. 125.
  5. Reavey was Pereira’s third husband, and the marriage lasted from 1950 to 1955. Previous marriages to Humberto Pereira and George Wellington Brown ended in divorce.
  6. The Grippe Collection at the Allentown Art Museum includes extensive correspondence about 21 Etchings and Poems and Weisenthal’s involvement.