From the first appearance of her watercolours at the Dudley Gallery in 1888, Mildred Anne Butler exhibited regularly for forty years at the Royal Academy, the Old Water-Colour Society, the Royal Hibernian Academy, the Water-Colour Society of Ireland and the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colour of which she became an Associate in 1896 and a full member in 1937.
Our knowledge of Butler's life and working methods is based almost entirely on the watercolours themselves and on her diaries, which are preserved for most years between 1892 and 1938. Butler was born at Kilmurry, a Georgian House near Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, daughter of Captain Henry Butler, a grandson of the 11th Viscount Mount Garret, who was himself an amateur artist. She travelled to France and Switzerland and onto Italy at the age of twenty-seven and in the following year and upto the outbreak of war made annual visits to the continent. We know of Butler working with three artists. Paul Naftel and William Frank Calderon taught her in the late 1880s and early 1890s. In the summers of 1894-5 she lodged in Newlyn to study under the Limerick-born Norman Garstin and established a friendship with Luke Fildes and Stanhope Forbes. Thereafter she lived and worked in Kilmurry, itself the chief source of inspiration throughout her career.