Marie Euphrosyne Spartali, later Stillman, (born March 10, 1844, died March 6, 1927) was a London-born Pre-Raphaelite painter of Greek descent. She has been described as (arguably) the best of the Pre-Raphaelite women artists. During a 60-year career she produced over one hundred pictures, contributing regularly to galleries in London and the USA.
Maria Spartali was the youngest daughter of Michael and Euphrosyne Spartali. Michael Spartali was a wealthy merchant and Greek consul-general based in London.
Maria Zambaco and Aglaia Coronio were her cousins; the three of them, all of Greek heritage and noted for their beauty, were known collectively by their friends as the Three Graces, after the Charites of Greek mythology (whose names were Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia). Swinburne said of Spartali: "She is so beautiful that I want to sit down and cry".
Spartali studied under Ford Madox Brown for several years from 1864, along with his children Lucy, Catherine and Oliver. She modelled for Brown, Burne-Jones (The Mill), Julia Margaret Cameron, Rossetti (A Vision of Fiammetta, Dante's Dream and The Bower Meadow), Spencer Stanhope and Whistler (La Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine).
In 1871, against her parents' wishes, she married American journalist and painter William J. Stillman. She was his second wife, his first having committed suicide two years before. His job as a foreign correspondent resulted in the couple dividing their time between London and Florence from 1878 to 1883, and then Rome from 1889 to 1896. She also travelled to America, and was the only English Pre-Raphaelite artist to work in the United States.
Spartali's daughter Euphrosyne (Effie) and her step-daughter Lisa both became artists. Her son Michael became an architect.
Marie Spartali died in London in 1927. She was cremated at Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, Surrey.
The subjects of her paintings were typical of the Pre-Raphaelites: female figures; scenes from Shakespeare, Petrarch, Dante and Boccaccio; also Italian landscapes. She exhibited at the Dudley Gallery, then at the Grosvenor Gallery and its successor, the New Gallery; at the Royal Academy; and at various galleries in the eastern USA, including the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. A retrospective show of her work took place in the United States in 1982.
Marie Spartali Stillman - 1868
Marie Spartali Stillman - 1869