Domestic Happiness

Lilly Martin Spencer American, 1822-1902

On View

in

American, Level 2, West Wing

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About the Artwork

The only well known female genre painter of her generation, Lily Martin Spencer specialized in themes of domesticity. Domestic Happiness is one of her most important works. The scene is based on a preliminary drawing of her two oldest sons asleep in each other’s arms. Their parents, aglow with pride, watch them. Spencer’s children eventually totaled thirteen, seven of whom lived to maturity. Lily was the breadwinner; her husband, Benjamin, tended the house and the children.

Domestic Happiness

1849

Lilly Martin Spencer

1822-1902

American

Unknown

Oil on canvas

Unframed: 55 1/4 × 45 3/4 inches (140.3 × 116.2 cm) Framed: 72 × 57 1/4 × 4 inches (182.9 × 145.4 × 10.2 cm)

Paintings

American Art before 1950

Bequest of Dr. and Mrs. James Cleland, Jr.

34.274

This work is in the public domain.

Markings

Inscribed, on verso: Lilly M. Spencer | Painter 1849

Old label on stretcher, upper corner: Detroit | Art Loan Association | F. Brady | No. 22 On stretcher, upper left: Property of | W. H. Brady Stencil, on verso: PREPARED BY | THEO. KELLEY | ... | NEW YORK

Provenance

Philadelphia Art Union Western Art Union (Cincinnati, Ohio, USA) Captain Waterman Samuel Preston Brady (1809-1868) Elizabeth Mary (Nexsen) Brady (1813-1888). Wife of the above. Dr. and Mrs. James Cleland, Jr. 1934-present, bequest to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

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Exhibition History

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Published References

“Catalogue of Paintings, now on exhibition in our free Gallery. Prices, including Frames.” Philadelphia Art Union Reporter 1, no. 1-3 (January-April 1851).

Hadry, Henriette A. “Mrs. Lilly M. Spencer.” Sartain’s Union Magazine 9 (August 1851): pp. 152-154.

Catalogue of Articles on exhibition at the Gallery of Fine Arts, in the Firemen’s Hall, February 1853. Exh. cat. Duncklee & Wales, Book and Job print, Detroit, 1853.

“The Fine Art Gallery.” The Broken Fetter, Published during the Ladies’ Michigan State Fair, for the Relief and Destitute Freedmen and Refugees,” February 28, 1865, p. 5.

Catalogue, Second Exhibition and Constitution and By-laws of the Detroit Art Association. Exh. cat., Detroit Art Association. Gulley’s Steam Press, Detroit, 1875-76.

Detroit Art Loan Exhibition. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1883, p. 65, no. 670.

National Academy of Design Exhibition Record 1826-1860. Exh. cat., New-York Historical Society. New York, 1943, p. 134.

Lilly Martin Spencer 1822-1902: The Joys of Sentiment. Exh. cat., National Collection of Fine Arts. Washington, D.C., 1973, p. 31, no. 133.

Lubin, David M. Picturing a Nation: Art and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century America. New Haven, CT, 1994, pp. 162-169.

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Catalogue Raisoneé

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Credit Line for Reproduction

Lilly Martin Spencer, Domestic Happiness, 1849, oil on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts, Bequest of Dr. and Mrs. James Cleland, Jr., 34.274.

Domestic Happiness
Domestic Happiness