Collections: American Art: Kiss Me and You'll Kiss the 'Lasses

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    Kiss Me and You'll Kiss the 'Lasses

    Standing amidst a bountiful harvest of fruits in a well-appointed bourgeois interior, the woman pictured here turns from her work to engage an unseen interloper (placed in the position of the viewer) in a playful flirtation. As the title implies, if the interloper tries to kiss her, he will receive a dousing of molasses from the spoon in her hand. Lilly Martin Spencer won popular acclaim in the mid-nineteenth century with anecdotal kitchen scenes such as this one, commissioned by the Cosmopolitan Art Association. Devoted to the encouragement of American genre art, the association also promoted art by women for women. It remains uncertain, however, what kind of appeal Kiss Me … had for female audiences: on the one hand, Spencer's protagonist occupies the domestic sphere of proper Victorian womanhood, yet, on the other hand, she behaves with unconventional boldness and autonomy. Interestingly, the artist experienced similar contradictions in her own life: raised in a progressive family, Spencer supported her husband and large brood with art depicting women in traditional roles.

    A verbal description of this work is available through Art Beyond Sight, a guide for people with visual impairments.

    • Artist: Lilly Martin Spencer, American, 1822-1902
    • Medium: Oil on canvas
    • Dates: 1856
    • Dimensions: 29 15/16 x 24 15/16 in. (76 x 63.3 cm) frame: 43 3/4 x 38 3/4 x 4 in. (111.1 x 98.4 x 10.2 cm)  (show scale)
    • Signature: Signed lower right :"Lilly M. Spencer / 1856"
    • Collections:American Art
    • Museum Location: This item is on view in American Identities: A New Look, Everyday Life/A Nation Divided, 5th Floor
    • Accession Number: 70.26
    • Credit Line: A. Augustus Healy Fund
    • Rights Statement: No known copyright restrictions
    • Caption: Lilly Martin Spencer (American, 1822-1902). Kiss Me and You'll Kiss the 'Lasses, 1856. Oil on canvas, 29 15/16 x 24 15/16 in. (76 x 63.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, A. Augustus Healy Fund, 70.26
    • Image: overall, 70.26_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    • Record Completeness: Best (83%)
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    Recent Comments
    08:39 04/14/2011
    O but - then, we must kiss
    for the molasses you make
    will make me even stronger
    for just even one spoon can give me vigor
    for it comes with calcium and magnesium
    and potassium and iron –
    and you too should have a spoon
    O goddess of fruit and Nature
    O loveliest Pomona,
    O loveliest goddess of fruitful abundance
    since even cattle are fed this
    and fed well on molasses
    we shall both be as vigorous
    as cattle, love –
    come let us have spoons and let us kiss
    molasses, lasses and all
    O come, let us be fruitful in hugs
    and let us be sweet in kisses
    as we pass molasses from mouth to mouth

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