- Collection ID:
Spencer, Lilly Martin, 1822-1902
- Physical Description:
The papers of portrait and genre painter Lilly Martin Spencer, measure 0.9 linear feet and date from 1828-1966. The collection includes biographical material, scattered lists, notes, receipts, and legal documents relating to Spencer's life and work, Spencer's business and family correspondence, printed material, a lithograph, photographs of Spencer and others, and photographs of Spencer's artwork.
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of portrait and genre painter Lilly Martin Spencer, measure 0.9 linear feet and date from 1828-1966. The collection includes biographical material, scattered lists, notes, receipts, and legal documents relating to Spencer's life and work, Spencer's business and family correspondence, printed material, a lithograph, photographs of Spencer and others, and photos of Spencer's artwork.
The collection documents Spencer's popularity and success as a painter, her involvement with art associations and civic organizations such as Sorosis, and her personal life as a wife, mother, and breadwinner through correspondence with family, artists including John Sartain and Benjamin John Lossing, dealers including Samuel Putnam Avery, writers and editors such as Robert Green Ingersoll and Fannie Raymond Bitter, and social activists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
The collection is arranged as four series:
- Series 1: Biographical Material and Other Papers, 1853-1959 (0.3 linear feet; Box 1, OV 3)
- Series 2: Correspondence, 1828-1966 (0.3 linear feet; Boxes 1-2)
- Series 3: Printed Material, 1857-1961 (0.2 linear feet; Box 2, OV 3)
- Series 4: Photographs, circa 1890-circa 1950 (0.1 linear feet; Box 2)
Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
New York and Ohio painter Lilly Martin Spencer (1822-1902) was known for her popular portrait paintings and humorous domestic genre scenes.
Spencer was born Angelique Marie Martin in England to French parents, Giles and Angelique Martin, who were followers of the French social critic Charles Fournier. The family came to New York in 1830, moved to Marietta, Ohio, in 1833 and, in 1845, co-founded the communal settlement, Trumbull Phalanx, near Braceville, Ohio. In 1848, after her marriage to Benjamin Spencer at the age of 22, Spencer returned to New York. She achieved much success as a painter and was the main breadwinner for her family while giving birth to thirteen children, seven of whom survived to adulthood. The family moved several times, to Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; Newark, New Jersey; and Highlands and Poughkeepsie, New York.
Existence and Location of Copies
Portions of the collection are available on 35mm microfilm reel 131 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of material described in the container inventory does not reflect the arrangement of the collection on microfilm.
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming on reel 131 including family history; biographical material; circa 50 photographs of Spencer and her paintings; M.A. thesis, "Lilly Martin Spencer: American Painter of the Nineteenth Century," by Ann Byrd Schumer; articles about Spencer's life and work, 1959; and a list of paintings owned by her granddaughter, Lillian Spencer Gates. Loaned materials were returned to the donor and are not described in the collection container inventory.
The collection received a preliminary level of arrangement after donation and was microfilmed on reel 131. The collection was processed and described in a finding aid by Stephanie Ashley in 2019.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated to the Archives of American Art in 1971 by Lillian Spencer Gates, Spencer's granddaughter.
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
for additional information.
Lilly Martin Spencer papers, 1828-1966. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The Archives of American Art also has microfilm (reel 132) of the Martin family papers and Campus Martius Museum records regarding Lilly Martin Spencer. Originals are located at the Campus Martius Museum, Ohio Historical Society.
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001