LILLY MARTIN SPENCER1822-1902
Lilly Martin Spencer was a noted mid-19th- Century genre painter. Her sentimental scenes of family life were extremely popular and brought her international recognition.
Spencer was born in 1822 in Exeter, England to French parents who were intellectuals and active supporters of abolitionism, women’s rights, and the Temperance Movement. In 1830 her family moved to the United States, and n 1833 they settled in Marietta, Ohio. Martin was educated at home, where she read Shakespeare and the Classics.
She was considered a child prodigy, and began to paint in her teens. Her work quickly attracted public attention. After viewing her first public exhibit of paintings in 1941, art patron Nicholas Longworth offered to pay for her education in Europe. She refused the offer, possibly because she objected to European training for American artists.
She married in 1844 and in 1847 moved to New York with her husband. She had thirteen children, of which only seven survived. She supported the children and her husband solely through the sales of her paintings. Her later work centered on domestic life, depicting members of her own family with warmth and humor in the hustle and bustle of everyday life in a large household.