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One Woman's Work:
the Visual Art of Celia Laighton Thaxter

by Sharon Paiva Stephan

Celia Thaxter Much attention has been focused on Celia Laighton Thaxter's poetry and on her life as a literary figure and artist whose family maintained a resort hotel on the Isles of Shoals in the nineteenth century. Here is a focus on a relatively unexplored facet of Celia's gifts. For the first time this celebrated author's visual art has been surveyed and collected into an exhibit by curator/author Sharon Stephan. This book contains 250, full color, images of Celia's art. It serves as a catalogue for the exhibition as well as a unique resource.

The hotel on Appledore Island became an artist retreat of sorts, during the glorious summer seasons. Celia Thaxter's artistic inspiration was drawn from the natural objects she was surrounded by while growing up on the Isles of Shoals off the coast of Portsmouth, NH. Her historic gardens are maintained today by dedicated gardeners at the original site on Appledore Island. She also created hand painted china and illustrated poems, in order to earn much needed financial support for her family.

Stephan, along with Dennis Robinson, Nancy Wetzel, Norma Mandel, and Jane Vallier, describe Celia's biography, life, gardens, and literary friends, in an easy style. A good introduction to the topic as well as to the exhibit, this volume also provides those already acquainted with Celia Thaxter, the opportunity to view her artistic contributions in a more wholistic way. The images of her china painting, illustrated poems, and, paintings provide the backdrop for Stephan's theory that, "Art was Celia's passion!"

Sharon Paiva Stephan envisioned this exhibit and catalogue, surveyed Celia's visual works, and enlisted guest essayists to contribute a new and unique look at the different facets of the artistic life of Celia Thaxter. The Portsmouth Athenaeum hosted the exhibit in Portsmouth, NH, from June 29th-September 29th, 2001. The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities/SPNEA hosted the exhibit in Boston, MA from October 2001 to April 2002. The exhibit concluded in Concord, NH at the Museum of NH History in September 2002.

This is the second printing of this beautiful book.

Nonfiction. 200 pages, 150 full color illustrations, clothbound, 10.25" x 8.5"
ISBN 0-914339-95-8 $30.00

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