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Lilly Martin Spencer papers, 1825-1971

Spencer, Lilly Martin, 1822-1902

Muralist, Printmaker, Portrait painter


Collection Information

Size: 0.6 linear ft. (on 1 microfilm reel)

Summary: REEL 131, frames 1-264: Family history; biographical material; ca. 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 her life and work, 1959; and a list of paintings owned by her granddaughter, Lillian Spencer Gates.

REEL 131, frames 265-735: Ca. 100 letters from Spencer to her parents, Giles and Angelique Martin, written after her arrival in Cincinnati in 1841 until her mother's death in 1866, and ca. 150 letters from clients, agents, and friends regarding her early career, her marriage, her move to New York City, and later, to Newark, N.J. and to her domestic and artistic life in those cities. Also found are journals and clippings, 1857-1902; family histories; photographs; articles; clippings and a photograph related to her painting "Truth Unveiling Falsehood"; and material relating to her involvement in the women's literary association, Sorosis, ca. 1874-1887.

Among the correspondents are: Samuel Putnam Avery, Charles H. Brainard, Cyrus Butler, T. Apolson Cheney, Mary Mapes Dodge of Hearth and Home, Jessie Benton Fremont, Robert Green Ingersoll, Jenny Lind, Rembrandt Lockwood, Benson John Lossing, John Sartain, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Biographical/Historical Note

Portrait and genre painter; New York and Ohio. Lilly Martin Spencer was born Angelique Marie Martin November 22, 1822, in England to French parents, Giles and Angelique Martin, followers of the French social critic Charles Fournier. The family came to New York in 1830, moving to Marietta, Ohio in 1833, and in 1845, co-founded the communal settlement, Trumbull Phalanx, near Braceville, Ohio. Spencer returned to New York in 1848 after her marriage to Benjamin Spencer, and achieved much success as a painter while raising seven children and moving several times -- to Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, Newark, N.J., and Highlands and Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Spencer died May 22, 1902.


Material on reel 131, fr. 1-264, was lent for microfilming, and the remainder, fr. 265-735, donated 1971 by Lillian Spencer Gates, Spencer's granddaughter.

Location of Originals

  • Reel 131, fr. 1-264: Originals returned to lender, Lillian Spencer Gates, after microfilming.

How to Use This Collection

Alternative Forms Available

Microfilm reel 131 available at Archives of American Art offices; the Ohio Historical Society; and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Lilly Martin Spencer papers, 1825-1971. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.