Exhibit Showcases Celia Thaxter’s Salon
This must be the summer of all things Celia Thaxter (1835-1894).
Earlier this summer I posted here about her biography that I had just read.
Then I wrote about the wonderful Childe Hassan (1859-1935) exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. Recently I saw another exhibit about Celia in the same city.
The Salem Athenaeum is hosting a free exhibit called “Celia’s Salon: America’s First Artists’ and Writers‘ Colony.” The exhibit runs through September 23.
This is a beautiful collection of materials that illustrate the richness of Celia’s salon at her family’s hotel on Appledore Island, off the coast of Rye, New Hampshire.
She invited hotel guests who also happened to be artists, musicians, and writers to spend either the morning or the evening in her salon. Some would bring their art work, musicians would play, and Celia would read at times.
Childe Hassan was the leader of the American Impressionists and the most prolific and successful artist working in that style. Celia became his friend from the start of his yearly visits. Illustrations of his work also form part of this exhibit.
In the collection there is a photograph of Celia, sitting in her salon. The extremely cluttered room is filled with tables covered in doilies, pictures, drawings, china artwork, even a music stand. There seems to be no room for anything else.
This painting at Appledore, used in the promotion of this exhibit, highlights the sea and the flowers that Celia grew in her famous garden. [below]
The artist William Morris Hunt gave Celia lessons. She had taken up painting of pieces of china like cups, saucers, and flower vases, some of which appear here in a glass case. At that time when literati and artists filled Celia’s salon, people were also writing her, requesting her china artwork.
This exhibit offers a glimpse into the life of this famous American poet and gardener from the late nineteenth century.