Thaxter, Celia and Childe Hassam, Illus.
An Island Garden
Seller ID: 1900
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1895. First edition, second printing (pp. 126) with pictures and decorations by Childe Hassam. Tall octavo (23 cm) in white publisher’s cloth (scarce), gilt title and decoration by Thaxter’s friend Sara Wyman Whitman (1842- 1904) whose cover designs, an elegant interpretation of the Art Nouveau, enhanced the work of, among others, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Sarah Orne Jewett. Whitman was one of three notable artists who created splendid covers for the publishers of their day: Alice Cordelia Morse was the first who, in a long and busy career, not only flourished as an artist but as a teacher of art as well; Margaret Armstrong, many of whose covers for Scribners were signed ‘MA’ somewhere in a corner of her designs; and Whitman who designed covers for Houghton-Mifflin, as here. The tissue- guarded plates, illustrations and decorations are by the American impressionist Childe Hassam (1859- 1935) whose style seems perfectly suited to the flowered summer retreat on Appledore Island in the Gulf of Maine where Thaxter hosted a famous salon for writers and artists. Here, the frontispiece, title page, various headpieces, and eleven full-page garden portraits exhibit Hassam’s skill depicting light and colour. Celia Thaxter (1835- 1894) was a popular poet of the time (They would have said ‘poetess’). Her work, notable for its intimate familiarity with wild nature combined with conventional subjects and rhyming schemes, appeared frequently in The Atlantic. Her poem ‘The Burgomaster Gull’ is probably the best known. In Hassam’s treatment it’s as though Thaxter herself somehow has become an element in the landscape. This book, an account of her splendid flower garden on Appledore, is rightly regarded as “one of the most elaborate pieces of bookmaking of the period” (BAL). Spine and the cover’s front edge sunned, front hinge re-enforced; the binding becoming a bit dry. A bright, attractive copy.
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