By the early 1880s, the Arts and Crafts Movement proliferated in England, existing as a contrast to the increasingly mechanized culture (and perceived lack of creativity) tied to nineteenth-century industrialization. The movement emphasized producing artwork by hand and discovering ways to intertwine art with everyday life, the embodiment of which exists in the Fleur-dé-Lys.
The Fleur dé Lys Studios emerged in 1885 just as the Arts and Crafts Movement took hold in the U.S. Sydney R. Burleigh, a painter, collaborated with Architect Edmund R. Willson in designing the building.
Burleigh studied painting in Paris between 1876 and 1880 before returning to Rhode Island. In addition to the Fleur-dé-Lys, his works were displayed regularly at the National Academy of Design in New York, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and Rhode Island School of Design. Burleigh also served on the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island School of Design from 1887 to 1893 and its Board of Trustees from 1919 until his death in 1931. Burleigh's
Willson attended Harvard College and the Ecole des Beaux-arts. His work enjoyed critical acclaim in prestigious professional journals, especially American Architect and Building News by academics of American architectural history.
The studio design is distinct in that it possesses a hand-carved facade comprised of various faux reliefs, unique ornate features, and an eye-catching yellow color scheme, among other characteristics that make it stand out considerably from the other buildings nearby.
Burleigh sought to use the building as his personal workspace, as well as a home to the newly formed Providence Art Club (1880), many of whom provided eclectic furniture that allowed the interior of the studio to be as artful as its exterior, but also welcoming and cozy unlike many art studios of that era.
In 1939, Sydney Burleigh's wife deeded the building to Providence Art Club (located just east) with the stipulation that the structure remains a place for artist studios. Indeed, The Fleur-de-Lys Studio remains under the curation of the Providence Art Club, having hosted the club for more than a century.