Maria Spartali Stillman (1844-1927) was an English model and painter of Greek and Italian descent, the daughter of a Greek merchant and consul general in London.Known to be beautiful and of Greek descent, Stillman and her cousins were named after the three graces, Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia. Her beauty was such that she deeply impressed painter James McNeill Whistler, who introduced her to the London art world. Before becoming a painter herself, in fact, Mary was one of the preferred models of the Pre-Raphaelites, posing for Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and others.
As a painter, Stillman was a full member of the second generation of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood and was
stylistically much influenced by Symbolist poetics. She had a long and fruitful career with a large output of works, which she exhibited at the Royal Academy. She was the only British Pre-Raphaelite to work in the U.S. and collaborate with various U.S. galleries.
In 1871, Stillman married an English journalist who was a foreign correspondent from Italy for "The Times.” The couple divided their time between London, Rome and Florence, where they met and befriended Vernon Lee, whom they visited at the Palmerino in 1903.