|Childe Hassam painting on Celia Thaxter's porch|
THE PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM, (PEM) in Salem, Massachusettes presents AMERICAN IMPRESSIONIST; CHILDE HASSAM AND THE ISLE OF SHOALS, through November 6, 2016, and pays homage to Hassam with the first exhibition in more than 25 years to focus on Hassam's paintings of the celebrated island. More than 40 of Hassam's greatest oil paintings and water colors record the coves, inlets, ledges and expansive seascapes that inspired his thirty year engagement with this alluring island. Six miles off the coast of southern New Hampshire and Maine, Appledore is the largest island in the storied archipelago in the Atlantic known as the Isle of Shoals. (Image: Attributed to Karl Thaxter (1852-1912). Childe Hassam painting on the porch of Celia Thaxter's cottage, c. 1886. Portsmouth Athenaeum, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Isles of Shoals, Photograph Collection.)
A ROCKING CHAIR VISTA. Visualize the seascape mood. Just pull up one of the white rocking chairs provided for visitors and reflect upon the magnificent and multi fascinating paintings of the gorges and rocks at Appledore. "His paintings of a wave dashing the spray among the rocks was magnificent and matchless for its technique and coloring," wrote Oscar Leighton, 90 Years on the Isles of Shoals. 1929. Then, there is a large photo image on one wall where an empty rocking chair on a cottage veranda invites you to vicariously sit and listen to the audio of the relentless ocean crashing against the rocks. At the post card table, visitors are invited to write a commentary for the commemorative scrapbook. You may also send a free postcard with Childe Hassam's Sunset at Sea image, and it will be stamped and posted by the museum and mailed to your friends. Just drop it in the mail box on the wall.
|Isle of Shoals, 1907. Oil on canvas|
In addition to Hassam, who was a regular visitor, other literary and artistic luminaries of the day, were enjoying informal morning concerts, lively discussions and evening readings. Too numerous to record here they included Nathanial Hawthorne, celebrated author of The Scarlet Letter and House of Seven Gables, Henry David Thoreau, philosopher, naturalist, abolitionist, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, best loved-American poet and Ole Bull, the famous Norwegian violinist among the great number of visitors invited to Celia's Salon.
|Moonlight, Childe Hassa, 1892 Photoby Alex Jamison|
The initial interest for Hassam was the exquisite garden of poet, author, and painter and local celebrity, his new friend, Celia Thaxter, Appelore's greatest champion. Hassam loved painting on the island and after frequent visits he purchased a parcel of land from Celia's brother and built a small studio and worked there, but mostly en plein air. Celia and Childe's friendship was a rock solid relationship that lasted from the late 1880s to 1912.
Thaxter published An Island Garden in 1894 with illustrations by Hassam. Over four summers Hassam painted Thaxter's garden and the views from her cottage piazza and the exquisite book is a collectible today. The PEM exhibition offers a sustained reverie on nature, the pleasure of painting and a rapturous sense of place and color. Image: MOONLIGHT: Childe Hassam 1892. Oil on canvas. Private collection. Photo by Alex Jamison.
PEM IS LOCATED at EAST INDIA SQUARE, 161 Essex Street, SALEM, MA. www.pem.org. Tel: 866.745.1876. A 124-page exhibition catalog with 100 color illustrations, American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals, edited by Austen Barron Bailly, PEM's George Putnam Curator of American Art, and John. W. Coffey, deputy director and curator of American and modern art at the North Carolina Museum of Art, limited edition, is available through the PEM gift shop and online at www.pemshop.com.
Ta Ta Darlings!!! Coincidentally, THE SALEM ATHENAEUM celebrates Celia's Salon through September 23, 2016. The historic private library shares a common mission with Celia Thaxter: to encourage creativity and share literature, music and are. In the summers, like Celia, the Athenaeum enjoys a lovely garden and Friday salons. Experience an ambiance of art and literature "in the key of sea." Find them at 337 Essex Street, Salem, MA. Learn more at salemathenaeum.net. Polly welcomes email comments from her readers: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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