Sunday, May 29, 2022

Life in America: Genre Paintings by Lilly Martin Spencer (1822 –1902)

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Lilly Martin Spencer (1822 –1902) Self Portrait

In 1972, the Walter Art Gallery in Baltimore had an exhibit with the questionable title of Old Mistresses: Women Artists of the Past. One of these “old mistresses” was Lilly Martin Spencer, born Angelique Marie Martin, (1822–1902) who was one of the most popular & widely reproduced American genre painters in the mid-19th century.

Lilly Martin Spencer (1822 –1902) Young Husband First Marketing

She painted domestic scenes, usually women & children in often unrealistic warm, happy atmospheres. The 20th & 21st century audiences find these paintings trite, but they do offer a glimpse into life in 19th-century America.

Lilly Martin Spencer (1822 –1902) The Young Wife First Stew

Angelique Martin was the daughter of French parents who emigrated from England to the United States in 1830, when she was 8. She grew up in Marietta, Ohio. Having exhibited artistic talent from an early age, she began studying drawing & oil painting with local artists.

Lilly Martin Spencer (1822 –1902) The War Spirit at Home Celebrating the Battle of Vicksburg

An 1841 exhibit of her paintings in Marietta was a success; & in the fall of that year she settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, where in a few years she firmly established herself as a leading local artist.

Lilly Martin Spencer (1822 –1902) The Jolly Washerwoman
She married Benjamin R. Spencer in 1844; & in 1848, she moved to New York City, where her work had already been exhibited successfully at the National Academy of Design & the American Art-Union. Through the American Art-Union & the Western Art Union, reproductions of Spencer’s genre & anecdotal paintings reached thousands of homes, & she became nationally known.

Lilly Martin Spencer (1822 –1902) Peeling Onions

At an exhibit staged by the American Art-Union in 1852, her works brought higher prices than those of John James Audubon, George Caleb Bingham, Eastman Johnson, & William Sidney Mount.

Lilly Martin Spencer (1822 –1902) Mother and Child by the Hearth

She also received commissions for illustrations from Godey’s Lady’s Book & other magazines, illustrated such books as Elizabeth F. Ellet’s Women of the American Revolution (1850), & executed portraits on private commission.

Lilly Martin Spencer (1822 –1902) Kiss Me and You'll Kiss the Lasses

In 1858, Spencer & her large family moved to Newark, New Jersey; & a few years later she established a studio in New York City, where for some years she worked on her monumental painting, Truth Unveiling Falsehood.

Lilly Martin Spencer (1822 –1902) Conversation Piece 1851

That painting was acclaimed as a masterwork upon its completion in 1869. She refused as much as $20,000 for the canvas, which was later lost. Her popularity declined in later years, although she continued to work.

Lilly Martin Spencer (1822 – 1902) Domestic Happiness

Women in Spencer's paintings were not particularly frivolous or vain; rather they worked in domestic labor, which was depicted as not merely useful but highly enjoyable. The woman here is self-confident, smiles & even appears to use the traditional tactic of 19th century women of flirting with the viewer. Here the woman produces & teaches the family, maintains the kitchen & housework & is in control of that world, however limited it might be. The popularity of Spencer's genre paintings declined, as the drive toward equality for women gained momentum.
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Friday, May 27, 2022

American Women by William Henry Snyder (1829–1910)

William Henry Snyder (1829–1910) Quiet Time
William Henry Snyder (1829–1910) Darning by the Hearth
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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

19th-Century American Women by William Page (1811-1885)

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William Page (1811-1885) Daughter of William Page 1838
William Page (1811-1885) Charlotte Cushman 1853
William Page (1811–1885) Mary Page, Daughter of Artist William Page
William Page (1811-1885) Sarah Augusta Page 1843.

Monday, May 23, 2022

John Singer Sargent's (1856-1925) Elegant American Ladies with Japonisme Fans

John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925). Etta Durham
The painter of these images of well-to-do women holding fans influenced by the Japonisme style, John Singer Sargent, was one of the American artists who went to study in Paris. Sargent did not paint many trendy compositions, but his fans fit into part of the Asian influence of the late 19th century.

Sargent went to study in Paris, because it was the place to be for any serious art student who could afford to travel there. After the American Civil War, Paris was a bustling cosmopolitan city & the capital of the western art world. Art students went to Paris to enroll in one of the many art schools there, seeking to polish their academic education. More established artists used Paris as a proving ground, leveraging exhibiting in its important international exhibitions to establish their artistic reputations.

A few made Paris their home, becoming part of a significant American expatriate community in the French capital. As the novelist Henry James reported of the "irresistible city" in an 1887 article, "it sounds like a paradox, but it is a very simple truth, that when today we look for American art we find it mainly in Paris. When we find it out of Paris, we at least find a good deal of Paris in it."
John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925). Mrs Ian Hamilton (Jean Muir)
John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925). Mrs Joseph Chamberlain
John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925). Mrs Thomas Wodehouse Legh
John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925). Mrs Hamilton McKown Twombly (Florence Adele Vanderbilt)
John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925). Mrs Cecil Wade John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925). Countess Clary Aldringen Threse Kinsky
John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925). Mrs Mahlon Day Sands (Mary Hartpeace)
John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925). Ada Rehan
John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925). Mrs Frederick Barnard
John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925). Mrs Henry White John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925). Mrs William Playfair.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Last Rose of Summer by American Artists

Frank W. Benson (1862-1951) Eleanor Holding a Shell, North Haven, Maine

Frank W. Benson (1862-1951) Four Children at North Haven

Frank W. Benson (1862-1951) Girls in the Garden

Frank W. Benson (1862-1951) My Daughters

Frank W. Benson (1862-1951) Eleanor
Frank W. Benson (1862-1951) Sunlight

Frank W. Benson (1862-1951) The Sisters 1899
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Karl Anderson (1874-1956) The Apple Gatherers 1912
Seymour Joseph Guy (1824-1910) Picking Apples
Frank Weston Benson (1862 – 1951) Hilltop

Frank Weston Benson (1862 – 1951) My Daughter Elizabeth
Frank Weston Benson (1862 – 1951) Summer

Robert Lewis Reid (1862 – 1929) A Summer Girl

Frank Weston Benson (1862 – 1951) Sunlight

Thomas P. Anshutz (1851-1912) Margaret Perot
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Thursday, May 19, 2022

American Artists Paint Reading Women

Frank W. Benson (1862-1951) The Reader
John White Alexander (1856-1915) Jesse Steele Reading
George Cochran Lambdin (1830 – 1896) Girl Reading
Karl Albert Buehr (1866 – 1952) News from Home
Walter MacEwen (1860 – 1943) Girl Standing with Book
William Worcester Churchill (1858 – 1926) The Chinese Vase
William Chadwick (1879 – 1962) The Front Parlor at the Florence Griswold House
Lillian Mathilde Genth (1876 – 1953) Portrait
Arvid Nyholm (1866 – 1927) Reading by the Greenhouse
Karl Albert Buehr (1866 – 1952) Repose
William Worcester Churchill (1858 – 1926) Leisure
Daniel Huntington (1816 – 1906) Study in a Wood
Lillian Mathilde Genth (1876 – 1953) A Pleasant Afternoon
Susan Ricker Knox (1874 – 1959) Reading in the Garden
William Morris Hunt (1824 – 1879) Girl Reading
Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862 – 1938) Reading by a Window 1903.