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We Both Must Fade (Mrs. Fithian)

1869 Lilly Martin Spencer Born: Exeter, England 1822 Died: New York, New York 1902 oil on canvas 72 x 53 3/4 in. (182.9 x 136.5 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase 1970.101 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, East Wing


Gallery Label

Mrs. Fithian stands before a mirror, admiring the tokens that others have given in praise of her beauty. She wears lace and pearls, and a blue gown that has just been taken from its box. But like the rose in her hand with its falling petals, her beauty will fade, and with it, all the pleasures the world can provide. The extinguished lamps, which darken the parlor to dramatic effect, emphasize the message of the painting. Thomas C. Latto romanticized this subject in a poem:

See! From those priceless jewels in her bower,
The queenly Beauty turns her neck away,
And Eyes that pale not 'neath the diamond's ray,
Muse in their loveliness on one sweet flower—
Whose bloom alas! Has reach'd its fated hour.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006

Keywords

Allegory - life

Allegory - quality - vanity

Portrait female - Fithian, Mrs. - full length

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Lilly Martin Spencer

Born: Exeter, England 1822 Died: New York, New York 1902

More works in the collection by
Lilly Martin Spencer