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Lilly Martin Spencer
We Both Must Fade (Mrs. Fithian)
1869
oil
72 x 53 3/4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum



This young woman dressed in a splendid lace-trimmed gown admires her reflection in a full-length mirror. Creases in the skirt and a dress-fitter's pin on the floor allude to the newness of the lavish gown. What appears as a straightforward depiction, however, is an allegory on the brevity of life and earthly vanity. The fallen rose petals, the jewels, the lamps, and mirror all reinforce the transience of material splendors.