Abigail May Alcott Nieriker - Life


Born at the Hosmer Cottage, Abigail May was the youngest of the four Alcott sisters. Artistically gifted from an early age, she painted decorative figures and faces throughout Orchard House, the family home. May aided the meager family income by selling her art and teaching painting, drawing and modeling clay. She studied teaching at the Bowdoin School, a Boston public school. Taking over for Louisa in 1861, May taught at the first Kindergarten founded by Elizabeth Palmer Peabody for a month before returning to her own work. May later taught an early form of art therapy at an asylum in Syracuse, New York, then returned home in 1862 to begin teaching art at the Concord school run by Franklin Benjamin Sanborn, a friend of Amos Bronson Alcott.

At the school of design in Boston she studied art with William Morris Hunt and William Rimmer, Krug, Vautier and Müller among others. She lent modeling tools to the young Daniel Chester French and encouraged him in his work; French credits May as one of his first art teachers.

May illustrated the first edition of Little Women, to a negative critical reception. Nevertheless, Louisa's financial success in 1868 allowed May to travel throughout Europe with her sister and their traveling companion and friend Alice Bartlett. After the death of Anna Alcott's husband John Pratt in 1871, Louisa returned to Concord while May stayed in Europe to begin serious study. May performed the bulk of her studies in Paris, London and Rome.

In 1877, her still life was the only painting by an American woman to be exhibited in the Paris Salon. Her paintings were exhibited worldwide. John Ruskin praised her copies of Turner, and May's Turner copies were used by art school students. Her strength was as a copyist and as a painter of still life, in oils and watercolors, and she painted many panels featuring flowers on a black background. A panel of goldenrod given to neighbor/mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson still hangs in his study. Several can also be seen at the Orchard House in Concord.

In 1878, 38-year-old May married Ernest Nieriker, a Swiss businessman and violinist some 15 years her junior. The couple lived in Meudon, a Parisian suburb.

She published Concord Sketches with a preface by her sister (Boston, 1869). In her book Studying Art Abroad, and How to do it Cheaply (Boston 1879) she advised:

"There is no art world like Paris, no painters like the French, and no incentive to good work equal to that found in a Paris atelier."

In 1879, she died of childbed fever six weeks after her daughter Louisa May "Lulu" was born. By her wish, Louisa May brought up Lulu until her death in 1888 (after which she was raised by her father, in Germany). Louisa's last story was a parable written about Lulu. The story is included in a modern book The Uncollected Works of Louisa May Alcott which is illustrated by May's paintings and drawings.

Though Louisa placed a stone with her initials at the family plot at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, May is buried in Paris.

Read more about this topic:  Abigail May Alcott Nieriker

Other articles related to "life":

Widukind - Life
... Very little is known about Widukind's life ... There are no sources about Widukind's life or death after his baptism ... as a likely location where Widukind may have spent the rest of his life ...
Faith in Other Spiritual Traditions - Meher Baba
... kinds of faith (i) faith in oneself, (ii) faith in the Master and (iii) faith in life ... Faith is so indispensable to life that unless it is present in some degree, life itself would be impossible ... It is because of faith that cooperative and social life becomes possible ...
International Space Station - Station Systems - Life Support
... The Russian orbital segment's life support systems are contained in the Service Module Zvezda ... The MLM Nauka laboratory has a complete set of life support systems ...
Half-life in Biology and Pharmacology
... A biological half-life or elimination half-life is the time it takes for a substance (drug, radioactive nuclide, or other) to lose one-half of its pharmacologic, physiologic, or radiological activity ... In a medical context, the half-life may also describe the time that it takes for the concentration in blood plasma of a substance to reach one-half of its steady-state value (the "plasma half-life") ... For example, the biological half-life of water in a human being is about seven to 14 days, though this can be altered by his/her behavior ...
Ecology - Relation To The Environment
... for organisms at any time throughout their life cycle ... however, is an abstraction parsing life and environment into units or facts that are inseparable in reality ... There is an interpenetration of cause and effect between the environment and life ...

Famous quotes containing the word life:

    I never read a novel, they have so little real life and thought in them.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.
    John Milton (1608–1674)

    My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
    My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
    My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
    And all my good is but vain hope of gain:
    The day is past, and yet I saw no sun,
    And now I live, and now my life is done.
    Chidiock Tichborne (1558–1586)