– Dutch painter of classical subjects. Renowned for his dazzling blue skies and seas. Nicknamed the “marbelous painter” for his realistic depiction of the stone. Highly regarded during his lifetime, his work fell out of favor until it was rediscovered in the 1960s.
Marie Sparteli (later Stillman) was born on March 4, 1844 to Greek immigrants living in London. While females are mostly known as the famous muses/models of the Pre-Raphaelite movement (and Marie, herself, did pose for Ford Madox Brown and Rossetti), Marie became a renowned artist in her own right.
Her father enjoyed throwing garden parties in which he was noted for inviting up and coming artists. It was during one of these gatherings that Marie met the famous writer and critic, Swinburne. It may have been through this meeting that she was later introduced to the wider Pre-Raphelite circle.
She began studying art under the tutelage of Madox Brown in 1864. Like the other Pre-Raphaelites, Marie was enamored with Shakespeare, Dante, and Boccaccio, amongst others.
At the age of twenty- seven, she wed the American painter and journalist, William Stillman. Together, they split their time between London, Rome, and Florence.
Marie and William had three children. Unfortunately, the youngest son died as an infant. However, her eldest, Michael, moved to the United States as and adult where he became a successful architecht. Her daughter, Sonia Zuckerman, is still alive, and is known for her philanthropical works.
Marie died on March 6, 1927. After being cremated, her ashes were interred in her father’s tomb.
While I was reading the great biography, “Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein” by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, I noticed these words beside a picture of Claire Clairmont: ” The only known portrait of Mary Shelley’s stepsister. It was painted in 1819 by Amelia Curran.”
Naturally, I had to learn more about Ms. Curran.
Amelia was born in Ireland in the year 1775. Not much is known about her life, but when she was in her twenties she traveled to Italy to study painting. There she befriended the radical Percy and Mary Shelley.
In 1812, Amelia accompanied Percy back to Ireland where he campaigned against the British government’s injustices.
Three of her paintings of Percy now hang in London’s National Portrait Gallery and are noted for capturing his strangely beautiful androgynous features.
Amelia completed this portrait of Mary and Percy’s son, William, not long before he succumbed to illness in Rome. He was only three years-old. It is the only known portrait of him to exist.
In 1821, whilst living in Naples, Amelia converted to Catholicism and excelled in copying portraits of Renaissance Madonnas. Presumably, she never married, and died quietly in 1847. She is buried in the Church of St. Isadore in Rome.