Kiss Me and You'll Kiss the 'Lasses
Lilly Martin Spencer
On View: American Identities: A New Look, American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, Visions and Myths of a Nation, 1800–1890, 5th Floor
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.
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Oil on canvas
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)
Signed lower right :"Lilly M. Spencer / 1856"
A. Augustus Healy Fund
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Lilly Martin Spencer (American, born England, 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
overall, 70.26_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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