For #BlueMonday - Poor Mrs. Fithian, her beauty already wilting like the flower shedding petals in her hand! No wonder she looks so dismayed. The artist was known for her sentimental subjects, but still - why would any woman wish her portrait to include such a melancholy, memento mori message?
Much more interesting is the life of artist Lilly Martin Spencer (1822-1902), a self-taught painter who carved out a successful career in a time when professional women artists were still a rarity. From the museum's biography of her: "Lily Martin Spencer began her career in Cincinnati, a bustling cultural center in the mid-nineteenth century. She had little formal training, as her descriptive style, with its hard outlines and colors and its sometimes awkward drawing, reflects. After moving to New York in 1848, she made a living for her husband and eight children by operating what may only be called a painting business, feeding the public's demand for the sentimental. Her husband left his work as a tailor to assist her and care for the children, giving her the necessary freedom from domestic responsibilities."
"We Both Must Fade (Mrs. Fithian)" by Lilly Martin Spencer, 1869 Smithsonian American Art Museum. @smithsonian #smithsonian #lilymartinspencer #1860s #portrait #portraitofalady #artbywomen #womenartists #5womenartists #bluesilk #fadingbeauty #art #arthistory #historyofart #heartart #artlovers