Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire


Thomas Sully ( American, 1783 - 1872 )

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General Description

In the late 1830s, in response to financial problems, Thomas Sully began to create "fancy pictures" of literary and sentimental subjects for the open market. This painting-one of the largest and most successful of them-illustrates the fairy tale "Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper" by Charles Perrault. First published in France in 1692 and a perennial favorite in English translation after 1729, Cinderella is the story of a beautiful girl mistreated by her family who ultimately wins a prince with a little help from her fairy godmother. Clad in a simple yet beautifully painted gown, Sully's charming heroine plays with her cat at the hearth, while her stepsisters primp in the background in preparation for the royal ball. A success when it was exhibited in Philadelphia in 1844 and Baltimore in 1848, the painting displays the delicate glazes, rosy palette, and fluid brushwork that were trademarks of Sully's dazzling style, combined with a popular subject familiar to generations of viewers.

Related Multimedia

Listen to the Cinderella story.
Collection smARTphone video; Sue Canterbury discusses Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire by Thomas Sully (DMA collection 2005.1)
Learn about Thomas Sully (1783–1872).