She and her cousins Maria Zambaco and Aglaia Coronio were known collectively among friends as "the Three Graces", after the Charites of Greek mythology (Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia), as all three were noted beauties of Greek heritage. 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, with his children Lucy, Catherine and Oliver. She modelled for: Brown; Burne-Jones (The Mill by Edward Burne-Jones.jpg); Julia Margaret Cameron; Rossetti (A Vision of Fiammetta by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.jpg, Dante's Dream at the Time of the Death of Beatrice by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.jpg, Rossetti wiese.jpg); 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 Britain-based Pre-Raphaelite artist to work in the United States.
Spartali's daughter Euphrosyne "Effie" and her stepdaughter Lisa both became artists. Her son Michael became an architect.
How Florence inspired the Pre-Raphaelites: Simon Poe visits a pioneering exhibition at the Uffizi that charts the influence of Florence on British and American artists in the later nineteenth century.(Exhibitions)
Aug 01, 2004; There is a very exciting book still to be written about the British and American visitors to Florence during the nineteenth...
So beautiful she made men cry: Simon Poe welcomes a revealing biography of Marie Stillman, a Pre-Raphaelite painter who was famous for both her looks and her inexplicable marriage.(Biography)
Mar 01, 2006; A Pre-Raphaelite Marriage: the Lives and Works of Marie Spartali Stillman and William James Stillman DAVID B. ELLIOTT Antique...