Description: Peeling Onions

As this woman prepares a meal, she pauses in her work to wipe away tears with the back of her hand.  Why is she crying?  Grasped firmly in her left hand is the culprit, an onion only half sliced. The stunningly realistic still life of fruit, a chicken, and cooking implements make it clear that this woman is in the midst of preparing a meal.

Lilly Martin Spencer’s genre paintings, scenes of everyday life, were very popular during the 1850s.  Often set in the home, they featured sentimental or humorous scenes in a realistic style.

  • Artist: Lilly Martin Spencer, American, 1822–1902
  • Created: ca. 1852
  • Credit Line: Gift of the Women's Council in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Memorial Art Gallery, 88.6