More than Lobster and Lighthouses


Haskell Island, Casco Bay, Maine, photo by H. S. Follansbee, July 1927

The Pingree family has been involved in shaping the landscape of Maine since shortly after it became a state in 1820.  David Pingree (1795-1863) started buying land in the 1830s and 1840s.  Through the processing of the Pingree papers, I have been able to discover that land in Maine wasn’t just an investment for the family, but a place that brought them personal joy. Read more

Nazi Art Plundering and Post-War Restitution

Kate Clayborne

Répertoire des Biens Spoliés en France Durant la Guerre 1939-1945 / Repatriation of Art from the Collecting Point in Munich After World War II / The Monuments Men / Verlorene Bilder, Verlorene Leben / Art and Power: Europe Under the Dictators

For the past year, a team of librarians and technicians from Backstage Library Works has been cataloging the extensive holdings of the van Otterloo Collection, currently on deposit here at the Peabody Essex Museum’s Phillips Library. As the project manager, I’ve had many beautiful and fascinating items cross my desk – you can see a post highlighting a few of these items here. In that last post, I briefly mentioned Nazi-era auction catalogs as useful means of determining prior ownership and verifying works of art. Using resources available in the van Otterloo Collection, this post will take a look at the tumultuous status of the art world in Europe at that time. We will explore the regulation and looting of art under the Nazi regime, and the attempts at restitution following the war. Read more

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