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Anna Lea Merritt | American Pre-Raphaelite painter

Anna Lea Merritt [1844-1930] American painter, was born in Philadelphia, the daughter of Joseph Lea a manufacturer. She studied art in Italy, Germany and Paris, ultimately settling England in the late 1860s. She married Henry Merrit, artist, and critic, who was twenty two years her senior. Tragically he died three months after the wedding. Anna Merritt edited a selection of her husband’s writings for publication. She built up a thriving practice as a portrait painter, in which artistic sphere she was highly talented, her picture of two little sisters, Jacqueline and Isura Loraine, for example is highly accomplished. In later years she often wintered in Egypt. She lived in Hampshire.

Merritt’s major works over the next decades include Taming the Birdc. 1883, Camilla 1882, and Love Locked Out 1889, which in 1890 became the first work of a woman artist to be purchased for the Tate Gallery, the museum that houses the national collection of British art.
Merritt’s Eve Overcome by Remorse and a mural decoration for the Woman’s Building at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893, both won medals. In 1902 she published A Hamlet in Old Hampshire, a portrait of Hurstbourne Tarrant, her home from 1890.
Merritt continued to exhibit at the Royal Academy until 1906. Her later years were plagued by failing eyesight. In 1981 Love Locked Out: The Memoirs of Anna Lea Merritt was published.