Poetry in Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelite Art of Marie Spartali Stillman

Poetry in Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelite Art of Marie Spartali Stillman

Poetry in Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelite Art of Marie Spartali Stillman

1 March – 5 June 2016

Watts Gallery


Poetry in Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelite Art of Marie Spartali Stillman is the first retrospective of the artist's work showcasing the quality and importance of one of the most admired women artists of the 19th century. Born in London to an eminent Greek family, Marie Spartali Stillman (1844-1927) 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.

Spartali began her engagement with art as a model for Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, and pioneering photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Famous among artists and society as one of the great beauties of the age, Spartali aspired to become an artist herself, and in 1865 she began formal lessons with Ford Madox Brown. Soon Spartali became part of the artistic circle she had so admired, becoming closely acquainted with G F and Mary Watts who hosted her and her husband, the American journalist William James Stillman, at Limnerslease. In her diaries, Mary Watts records photography lessons from William Stillman, and it is clear that Spartali was held in very high esteem by both Wattses

Spartali gained success internationally, exhibiting throughout her life in London, Birmingham and Manchester as well as in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. This new exhibition, travelling to Watts Gallery from Delaware Art Museum, brings together some twenty subject paintings, portraits, still lifes and photographs not seen together since the artist's lifetime. Highlights include Cloister Lilies (1891), a landscape of the home of William and Jane Morris Kelmscott Manor: Feeding Doves in Kitchen Yard (1904), A Wreath of Roses (1880), and the stunning The Enchanted Garden of Messer Ansaldo (1889) (see above image).

Dr Nick Tromans, Curator of Watts Gallery, comments:

"Like Mary Watts and Evelyn De Morgan (both artists whose work can be seen at Watts Gallery - Artists' Village) Marie Spartali is part of the first wave of British women who were able to train as professional artists. We are delighted to host this exhibition, which continues our commitment to celebrating the work and achievements of Victorian women artists."

Poetry in Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelite Art of Marie Spartali Stillman is curated by Jan Marsh and Margaretta Frederick. Watts Gallery is the only UK venue for this landmark exhibition.

For more information, please call 01483 810235.


Poetry in Beauty: Official exhibition book

Poetry in Beauty: Official exhibition book

Dive deeper into the world of Marie Spartali by purchasing the book accompanying the exhibition.

Click here to purchase

Discover the exhibition

Discover the exhibition

Take a sneak peak into selected works from the exhibition.

Disover more