Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, Della Dryer first studied art at the Alabama Conference Female College (later relocated to Montgomery and renamed Huntingdon College). After graduating, Dryer moved with her family to Birmingham, where she became an active participant in the city’s artistic life. She joined the Birmingham Art League in the late 1890s, and was a founding member of the Birmingham Art Club in 1908. In 1903, Dryer moved to New York, where she furthered her artistic education at the New York School of Art, which had been founded by the eminent painter William Merritt Chase in 1896.
In New York, Dryer studied with Chase, but her main instructor was the Uruguayan-born American painter Francis Luis Mora (1874-1940). Over her long career, Dryer primarily became known for her figure and landscape painting, but like her friend and colleague Carrie Hill, turned to still lifes in later years. This still life was among the first works to enter the permanent collection of Birmingham Museum of Art, which was founded in 1951, the year of Dryer’s death.