Jessica was the eldest daughter of James Hayllar and with her sister Edith was the most talented of her artistic siblings, who also numbered Mary and Kate. She was also the most prolific and exhibited at the Royal Academy for twenty-two years, from 1880 to 1902. However following an accident around 1900, (family tradition has it that she was crippled after being knocked down by a carriage), she turned to flower pictures, especially the azaleas which feature in so much of her earlier work. She died unmarried in 1940, in Bournemouth, the resort to which she and her father had moved in 1899.
As with the rest of her sisters, Jessica derived her main inspiration from the happy and contented domestic life enjoyed at Castle Priory, on the banks of the Thames, near Wallingford, where the Hayllars lived
from 1875 to 1899. The house was full of halls, corridors, and rooms
leading into one another, each of which had long windows looking out on to the garden and the river beyond.
The present work is reminiscent of her sister Kate's A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever (The Forbes Collection of Victorian Pictures, Christie's London, 19-20 February 2003, lot 263). Both works depict a carefully selected group of objects and both have a sense of exoticism inspired by the Aesthetic Movements taste for Japanese works of art.
For a work by Hayllar's father James see lot 4.