Celia – Poet and Painter

Book Page Inscribed by Celia Thaxter and Decorated with Painting of Pansie

Book page inscribed by Celia Thaxter and decorated with a pansy painted by Thaxter; published in One Woman's Work, The Visual Work of Celia Thaxter; provided courtesy of Peter E. Randall Publisher, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

After writing the first blog about Celia Thaxter and her island garden, I immersed myself in the reading of her poetry and learning more about her life as an artist.  I was reminded of the blog post I wrote on women artists in March 2014, in which I mentioned Mary Delany, the British artist famous for her flower mosaicks, another strong female artist I admire.  Although Mrs. Delany lived one hundred years earlier than Thaxter, she held similar beliefs in the role of art in one’s life.  Her biographer, Molly Peacock, writes in The Paper Garden that Mrs. Delany chose to recreate the overwhelming awe that nature can produce.  She discusses the role of painting in Mrs. Delany’s life, indicating that Mrs. Delany painted in the course of the obligations of her day . . .She painted in the context of planning meals, planning travel, planning her garden, and budgeting for her household bills.   Read more

Celia Thaxter – Island Gardener

In the Garden, 1892, Child Hassam

In the Garden (Celia Thaxter in Her Garden), Childe Hassam, 1892, oil on canvas, 22 1/4 x 18 inches, courtesy The National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, http://americanart.si.edu/ Chromolithograph used as frontispiece to An Island Garden by Celia Thaxter, 1894

I have always been interested in strong, female artists.  I admire their tenacity to create, regardless of obstacles they may face.  Every time I purchase a new car I name it after one, which helps me feel safer on the highway.  My current car, purchased a year ago, a white SUV with a panoramic sunroof, is named after Celia Laighton Thaxter, a poet, prose writer, painter, and island gardener.   I chose Celia because Thaxter regularly wore white dresses, had a fervent love of nature, and was an avid gardener, as I am.  My alma mater, Cornell University, works in conjunction with the University of New Hampshire to manage the Isle of Shoals Marine Laboratory. They worked with a group of volunteers on the restoration of Thaxter’s garden, which had been destroyed by fire in 1914.  How could she not be the artist I would choose to protect me as I commute every day? Read more

Celebrating Fathers

Contentment, Industry, and Hospitality

Contentment, Industry, and Hospitality from Moral Picture Book reproduced from original in Bodleian Library, inscribed 1852

As soon as I finished writing the blog post honoring mothers in May, I knew I would do the same this month to honor fathers.   It was a bit more of a challenge to locate illustrative text for this entry but I soon remembered the poetry by Anne Bradstreet, considered by many to be the first female poet to be published in America.  The daughter of Governor Thomas Dudley and the wife of Governor Simon Bradstreet, founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Bradstreet arrived in Salem in July 1630 after a journey from England aboard the Arbella.  Read more