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Marie Spartali Stillman

Luisa Strozzi

Artist

Marie Spartali Stillman
Middlesex, England, 1844 – London 1927

Title

Luisa Strozzi

Date

1884

Materials

Watercolour, gouache, gum arabic, gold, graphite

Dimensions

78.8 x 61.1 cm

Credits

Gift of Henry B. Yates in memory of Edward Maxwell (1867-1923), inv. 2016.447

Collection

Graphic Arts

This drawing by the British Pre-Raphaelite artist Marie Spartali Stillman was recently donated to the Museum by Henry B. Yates, grandson of Edward Maxwell, one of the architects of the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion. Marie Spartali was born in Middlesex (England) in 1844, into a family whose social circle included James McNeil Whistler and Julia Margaret Cameron. A Pre-Raphaelite beauty, she was known first as a model – sitting for Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. It is only recently that the scope of her artistic output has come to light. This drawing is inspired by the city of Florence, where the artist lived in the early 1880s with her husband, the American journalist William J. Stillman. Careful attention is paid to textures throughout, from the delicate, translucent lace at the edge of the cuffs of the fanciful gown to the folds of the velvet curtain. The artist achieves this great subtlety by a using a very fine technique of interweaving short, delicate brushstrokes of gouache and watercolour, a medium considered at the time to be more appropriate for her gender than oils. The work was presented under the title Luisa Strozzi at the exhibition presented in London on 1884 by the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours.

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