Maria Spartali was born to a Greek family living in London. She was a celebrated beauty and modelled for the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, and for Dante Gabriel Rossetti. She appears with Alexa Wilding in the latter's The Bower Meadow of 1872. An accomplished artist, she studied under the Pre-Raphaelite painter Ford Madox Brown, although her style shows more of the influence of Rossetti. The early Pre-Raphaelites believed in a return to the highly finished, detailed surfaces and subject matter of the Italian School prior to the changes of the High Renaissance. Through Rossetti's circle of friends she met and married the American journalist and photographer William J.Stillman.
Loosely inspired by the writings of the early Renaissance poet Dante Alighieri, this painting depicts his beloved Beatrice who appears in both the Vita Nuova and Purgatory. While Dante’s Beatrice is described in terms of the divine, Stillman paints a more earthly beauty, lost in thought as she contemplates her reading.
the above text appears on the back of the card HC-1220: card size 7" x 5" (178mm x 127mm)