Art of the Day: Fanny Appleton

We were struck by this exceptionally beautiful picture of the young Frances Appleton (reprinted this weekend in the New York Times) who would, some years later, marry the most popular poet of the time, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. She would shortly die young, in an unexpected, sudden and truly awful fashion, a reminder, if one needs it in this pandemic era, to cherish every moment.

From the Boston Daily Advertiser, July 11, 1861.

“A sad accident,which proved fatal yesterday forenoon, befell Mrs. FANNY LONGFELLOW, wife of Prof. HENRY W. LONGFELLOW, at their residence in Cambridge, on Tuesday afternoon. While seated at her library table, making seals for the entertainment of her two youngest children, a match or piece of lighted paper caught her dress, and she was in a moment enveloped in flames.

“Prof. LONGFELLOW, who was in his study, ran to her assistance, and succeeded in extinguishing the flames, with considerable injury to himself, but too late for the rescue of her life. Drs. WYMAN and JOHNSON, of Cambridge, and HENRY J. BIGELOW, of this city, were summoned, and did all that surgical skill could do….

“Mrs. LONGFELLOW rallied a little, but at 11 o’clock she was forever released from suffering. Mrs. LONGFELLOW was a gifted and accomplished lady, the daughter of Hon. NATHAN APPLETON. She leaves five children to mourn, with their father, their common loss. Prof. LONGFELLOW’s injuries, though serious, are not of a dangerous kind.”