Untitled Document

Artist Biography

 Through the widespread popularity of lithographs of her work, Lilly Martin Spencer became the best known woman painter of the mid-19th century. She was one of the few successful women professionals exhibiting at the Pennsylvanian Academy who was not associated with a family of artists. Practicing her career in and around New York City, she took drawing classes at the National Academy of Design and frequently exhibited there. Like her contemporaries William Sidney Mount and George Caleb Bingham, she was known for subjects drawn from the experiences of daily life. However, Mount and Bingham confined their genre paintings to traditionally male experiences, politics, horse trading, farming and hunting, while Spencer’s work is drawn from the female experiences of a wife, mother and homemaker. Spencer was the first woman artist to attempt domestic genre painting, and differed from her female contemporaries in the strength of her technique, as revealed in the sumptuous colors and shapes of the still life in Kiss Me And You’ll Kiss the ‘Lasses and in the humorous conception of the coquettish girl disturbed at her chores by an unseen admirer. Very much aware of the contemporary feeling that art should be concerned with high moral purpose, Spencer also conceived allegorical subjects such as Truth Unveiling Falsehood (1869) which was exhibited at the Women’s Pavilion at the centennial exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876.