Mrs. Fithian stands before a mirror, admiring the tokens that others have given in praise of her beauty. She wears lace and pearls, and a blue gown that has just been taken from its box. But like the rose in her hand with its falling petals, her beauty will fade, and with it, all the pleasures the world can provide. The extinguished lamps, which darken the parlor to dramatic effect, emphasize the message of the painting. Thomas C. Latto romanticized this subject in a poem: “See! From those priceless jewels in her bower, / The queenly Beauty turns her neck away, / And Eyes that pale not ‘neath the diamond’s ray, / Muse in their loveliness on one sweet flower — / Whose bloom alas! Has reach’d its fated hour.”
(Text courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum).