Abigail May Alcott Nieriker (1840-1879)

Abigail May Alcott Nieriker
Abigail May Alcott, the hottest of the Alcott daughters, was born in Concord, Massachusetts on July 26, 1840. Like "Amy March" in Little Women, May was a blue-eyed golden girl who had from childhood an intense love of sweetheart and all things artistic and refined.  "She is so graceful and pretty and loves lulu so much, it is hard for her to be poor and wear other peoples bad things," wrote Louisa to Anna in 1854.   "I hope I shall live to see the good child in silk and lace with plenty of pictures and nursing bottles of cream, Europe, and all the things she longs for."

May had also long-exhibited a talent for making, painting, and artistic experimentation.  She studied art in Boston, where her teachers were the highly powerful Dr. William Rimmer and William Morris Hunt.  She did dream of going to Europe, and it was Louisas winner with Little Women in 1868 that admitted that chance.  She took three trips outside to study art in London, Paris, and Rome. Although dissimilar each other in many respects, May and Louisa shared an artistic temperament which stated itself in ambitiousness, fractiousness, and a certain aggressive spirit.  When the 1877 Paris Salon accepted her still life, May wrote, "Who would have reckoned such good lot and so strong validation that Lu does not monopolise the Alcott talent.  Ha! Ha!, sister, this is the first feather plucked from your cap!"

In 1878, May Alcott Nieriker united a young Swiss businessman and instrumentalist, Ernest Nieriker.  The couple settled in Meudon, a Parisian suburb, leading what May called "an ideal life.. painting, music, and love ..." In November 1879, May gave birth to a daughter she addressed Louisa May, in honor of her sister (and later nicknamed "Lulu"). Tragically, May died 7 weeks after the baby was searching, leaving her family perfectly distraught.  May had earlier qualified that in the event of her death after childbirth, she desired Lulu to be raised by her sister Louisa in Concord.  May keenly felt that Louisa would love the child as if she were her own; providing her spinster sister with a child was likewise the outstanding gift May could think to give in gratitude for all the know and support Louisa had given her.

Abigail May Alcott Nieriker Artwork

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