Marie Spartali Stillman (1844–1927)
Rome, late 1880s
Watercolor, gouache, likely waterglass (sodium silicate), on paper stretched on wood panel
28 ¼ x 24 5/8 in.
Bequest of Susan Norton
This painting descended in the Norton family whose members had deep connections to European artists and intellectuals. The London trained artist of this painting developed similar transatlantic connections when she married American journalist W. J. Stillman.
After her marriage Stillman lived in Italy where she immersed herself in Renaissance culture. She painted dreamlike images of women that epitomized her generation’s notion of ideal beauty—long limbs and fingers, flowing red hair. Here her model holds a pomegranate and peacock feather, both attributes of the goddess Hera. As Hera was the patron of brides, this may have been intended as a wedding gift.