Skip to Content
Closed today, next open Thursday. Closed today, next open Thursday.

This Little Pig Went to Market

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of oil on canvas.


c. 1857


Lilly Martin Spencer
American, born England, 1822–1902

About this artwork

Lilly Martin Spencer positioned women at the center of her vivid portrayals of the everyday activities of white, urban, middle-class households like her own. This Little Pig Went to Market features a mother and child (modeled by the artist and her son William Henry) reciting a playful nursery rhyme. The game celebrates their emotional bond while also hinting at the larger world that the boy will eventually join.

Establishing herself professionally in Cincinnati and relocating to New York in 1848, Spencer supported her large family with her art. One of the most popular US artists of the mid-19th century, she worked hard throughout her career to translate this success into financial security.


On View, Gallery 173


Arts of the Americas


Lilly Martin Spencer


This Little Pig Went to Market


United States (Artist's nationality)


c. 1857


Oil on canvas


Signed lower left: L. M. Spencer / pinx


61 × 50.8 cm (24 × 20 in.)

Credit Line

Roger and J. Peter McCormick Endowment Fund; through prior gifts of the George F. Harding Collection and the Chicago Normal School Alumni

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

Learn more.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions