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Arts Playlist: Marie Spartali Stillman at the Delaware Art Museum

While men are well represented in the annals of art history, the works of female artists have generally been glossed over.


The Delaware Art Museum aims to change that with their newest exhibition, “Poetry in Beauty, The Pre-Raphaelite Art of Marie Spartali Stillman.”


Born in London in 1844, Stillman grew up in a cultured upper middle class family amongst the great painters and writers of the day. She and her sister Christina were considered great beauties and sat as models for artists like Whistler and Rossetti.

But Stillman wasn’t content with just being a subject.

She studied painting with Pre-Raphaelite pioneer Ford Madox Brown and was one of a small number of professional female artists working in the second half of the 19th century within the British Pre-Raphaelite circle. That group rejected the conventions of their time and focused on the past, particularly the Middle Ages,the time “before Raphael.”

While Stillman was a well-respected figure in the mid to late 19th century, her name is largely unfamiliar today.


British art historian and exhibit co-curator Jan Marsh says the retrospective is an opportunity to restore Stillman’s place in the art world.


“Its subsequent history that has written out, forgotten, overlooked and neglected her,” she says. “I think this exhibition will show Marie Stillman deserves a full place within the Pre-Raphaelite movement that has hitherto been denied to her.”


Marsh adds the Wilmington museum is well suited to host the show which features about 50 of the artist’s works.


“The Delaware Art Museum has the largest collection of Marie Stillman’s work in any museum but also because she had a dual career in Europe and America it's also very appropriate that the first solo show she’s ever had is happening on U.S soil.”


“Poetry in Beauty, The Pre-Raphaelite Art of Marie Spartali Stillman” is on view through January 31st at the Delaware Art Museum.


This piece is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

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