Cultured Wednesday: Lilly Martin Spencer’s “We Both Must Fade”

The third portrait of a girl in a row!

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This is a favorite painting of our oldest daughter, and the third portrait of a girl in a row, albeit the model is a bit older this time.  Have a look at this pretty, pensive young lady:

Lilly Martin Spencer: We Both Must Fade (Mrs. Fithian) (1869)

It is the first time that we have a painting of  a female painter on here, we just realized.  Well, high time, we say:

Lilly Martin Spencer (born Angelique Marie Martin on 26 November 1822 in Exeter, England, and died 22 May 1902 in Highland, New York) was one of the most popular and widely reproduced American female genre painters in the mid-nineteenth century.  Primarily, she painted domestic scenes, paintings of women and children in a warm happy atmosphere, although over the course of time she would also come to paint works of varying style and subject matter.

In 1830, when Lilly was eight, her family immigrated from the Old World to New York where they remained for three years before ultimately moving to Marietta, Ohio.  There Lilly was home-schooled by her highly educated parents and began what would be her long career as an artist.

She later moved to Cincinnati, OH where she met and married Benjamin Rush Spencer on 24 August 1844.  Her new husband was an Englishman who worked in the tailoring business, but once they were married he dedicating himself to helping his wife both in household chores and with her artistic work.  They raised seven children to adulthood.  Although many feared that matrimony would end Lilly’s career as an artist, it did not.  Instead, she would become the most popular and widely reproduced female genre painter of the mid-19th century.

The family moved to New York City in 1848, and in the winter of 1879–80 to rural Highland, New York.  Her husband of forty-six years died in February 1890, leaving Lilly a widow, but she continued to work  until the day of her death on 22 May 1902.

Lily Martin Spencer had a career that spanned more than 60 years.  Now that’s something!


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