Louise Herreshoff was born in 1876 in Brooklyn, New York, to Grace E. Dyer and John Brown Francis (J. B. F.) Herreshoff. After her mother’s death in 1880, she was raised in Providence, Rhode Island, with her maternal grandfather and three aunts. Elizabeth H. Dyer, known by Louise as Aunt Lizzie or, affectionately, as “Wisam,” was her surrogate mother.
While Louise frequently visited her father and his family in Brooklyn, the city of Providence and its educational and cultural offerings were a foundational influence on Herreshoff as a person and as an artist. There, Louise attended the Lincoln School as well as Saturday art classes at the Wheeler Studio, founded in 1883 by artist and pioneer educator Mary Colman Wheeler. In the 1890s, she was one of the many students who accompanied Wheeler on summer study trips abroad, before studying with French artist Raphaël Collin at Fontenay-aux-Roses. Herreshoff also traveled throughout Europe with friends to paint and sightsee, and finally moved to Paris to study at the Académie Julian with Jean-Paul Laurens and Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant. By the age of 21, Herreshoff was among the relatively few Americans accepted into the Paris Salon, exhibiting in 1897, possibly in 1899, and finally in 1900 with her painting “Le Repos.”
When Louise returned from France to Brooklyn in 1903, she anticipated marriage to her cousin, James Herreshoff, but was thwarted by her family. Instead, her father encouraged her work as an artist and rented a studio for her in New York. She frequently traveled back to Providence, where in 1909 she exhibited 13 works in the Providence Art Club Annual Exhibition. The following year, she married a distant cousin Charles C. Eaton, but left him after three months. She returned to Providence to live with Lizzie and continued to paint. Her most prolific period appears to be the 1920s, when she painted on Cape Ann and exhibited there and in Providence.
Aunt Lizzie, who was so influential in Louise's life, died in 1927, followed in 1928 by her sister Cornelia. Louise appears to have stopped painting at this time and resigned as a member of the Providence Art Club in 1928. She eventually turned her attention to collecting ceramics. Through this interest, she met and married Euchlin Dalco Reeves, almost 30 years her junior. Together they amassed an impressive collection of ceramics, including Chinese Export porcelain. Reeves was an alumnus of Washington and Lee University’s Law School and, when Louise died in 1967 after her husband's passing, she gave their collection to his alma mater. Her paintings were a surprise find when the ceramics were packed for transport to Lexington, Virginia. Examples of her work can be found at all times on display in the Elisabeth S. Gottwald Gallery in the Reeves Museum on the university’s campus.