Lilly M. Spencer

(1822-1902)

Lilly M. Spencer emigrated to the U.S. from England with her family in 1830. She was an artistic prodigy in her teen years and was educated at home. In 1841 she held an exhibition of her work which drew the attention of a wealthy patron in Cincinnati but ultimately turned down his offer to send her to Europe for further study. Spencer's early work consisted mostly of allegorical and Shakespearian subjects. In 1848 Spencer moved to New York City hoping to find a larger audience. She gained financial success with her sentimental domestic genre paintings. Spencer was able to support her family just by the sale of her work with her husband managing domestic responsibilities and the business side of her work. Her seven children often appear in her paintings often with pets. Spencer used bright colors, clear drawing and dramatic light to enhance her paintings. She painted until her death, producing up to 500 works, many of which were reproduced as popular engravings and lithographs. Spencer died in 1902.