Ms Nourse was a portrait and landscape painter born in Cincinnati, Ohio in the Mt. Healthy area. She was born to the Catholic household of Caleb Elijah Nourse and Elizabeth LeBreton Rogers Nourse on October 26, 1859, Elizabeth and her twin sister were the youngest of ten children. She attended the McMicken School of Design in Cincinnati at age fifteen, and was one of the first women admitted to the women's life class offered there taught by Thomas Satterwhite Noble. She also studied watercolor painting while there. She studied at the school for seven years and was even offered a teaching position, which she declined.
In 1882 both parents died, and with the assistance of an art patron, she went to New York to continue her studies, briefly in the Art Students League. In 1883 she had returned to Cincinnati and made her living decorating home interiors and painting portraits. From 1884 to 1886 she spent most of her summers in Tennessee in the Appalachian Mountains doing watercolor landscapes.
She moved to Paris, France in 1887 and attended Académie Julian, studying under Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebvre. Finished with studies, she opened her own studio, and in 1888 her work was featured in her first major exhibition at the Societé Nationale des Artistes Français. She soon became the second American woman to be accepted as a member of the society. Her subjects were often women, mostly peasants and depictions of France's rural countryside. In 1920 she was operated on for breast cancer, and in 1937 the cancer was back. She died on October 8, 1938. Some of her works are displayed at the Cincinnati Art Museum.