Inside the Collections Care Project: Celia Thaxter’s hand-painted porcelain

Feb 10, 2015

This week’s update from Historic New England’s Collections Care Project centers on the painted ceramics of Celia Thaxter.

Thaxter was an American writer and poet whose stories and poems were published in magazines including Atlantic Monthly, Scribner’s, and Harper’s Magazine, making her one most popular female writers of the nineteenth century. 

In addition to her skill at writing, Thaxter was also an accomplished painter. It was customary, during this time, for women to purchase “blanks,” undecorated porcelain tableware, plates, cups, and saucers, and add hand-painted details. 

While her favorite motif appears to be olives, there are also examples of floral designs and landscapes in her work. Her love of nature and her ability to capture it both in the written word and in her paintings are well demonstrated in the painted porcelain pieces preserved by Historic New England

Because she spent so much time in the garden, Thaxter was able to paint natural scenes from memory and use them as her inspiration for her beautifully painted porcelain ware.

Please consider a donation to the Collections and Conservation Fund to support the preservation of New England treasures like these.