Mini Biography: Anna Lea Merritt

Birth: Sept. 13, 1844
Death: Apr. 7, 1930
Nationality: American
Movement: Painting
Born to a prosperous Quaker couple in Philadelphia, PA. Merritt was well educated in classical subjects and the arts. She attended the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, where she studied anatomy, before moving to Europe where she studied art with various artists. Merritt moved to London in 1870 and soon after met British painter Henry Merritt who became her husband in 1877 and died a few months later. Her best known work, Love Locked Out, was painted in memory of him. She was a member of London’s Royal Society of Painters and Etchers in addition to being the author of 2 books and numerous articles. In an article written for Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine Merritt wrote, “The chief obstacle to a woman’s success is that she can never have a wife. Just reflect what a wife does for an artist: Darns the stockings; keeps his house; writes his letters; visits for his benefit; wards off intruders; is personally suggestive of beautiful pictures; always an encouraging and partial critic. It is exceedingly difficult to be an artist without this time-saving help. A husband would be quite useless.” Merritt exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Salon in Paris, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Merritt never remarried or had children but continued to live in England for the rest of her life.
Some of her notable works include: Love Locked Out (1889), Eve (1893), and Piping Shepherd (1896). Love Locked Out is pictured below. The header image is a portrait of her husband painted in 1877.
Merritt, Anna Lea. Love Locked Out (1890), Tate.
To read more about Merritt or to see more of her artwork visit:
National Museum of Women in the Arts
Encyclopædia Britannica