26 July 2014

It's the Artists' Life for May

Today we celebrate May Alcott's birthday. May was the lively youngest Alcott sister, born July 26 1840.  May was a natural born artist and began to sketch and draw at an early age. Bronson & Abigail even allowed her to decorate the walls of Orchard House with whimsical sketches to support her creative spirit. Visitors today can still see some of her original work, drawn right on the paint! 

At the age of 19, May was admitted to and began studies at the Museum School at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. There she really began to hone her artistic talent and explore work as a painter. As a student of William Rimmer and William Morris Hunt, May became an early teacher to American master sculptor, Daniel Chester French. As a 17 year old student, he was captivated by May, and we could think of no better way to honor her birthday than to share some of his remembrances of her written for the Prelude to May Alcott, A Memoir by Caroline Ticknor.

"One sparkling summer's morning in 1868 a young woman rode into our yard in Concord, Massachusetts, wearing the long skirt and close fitting bodice which, with plumed hat, made up the picturesque riding habit of that day, setting off her tall and extraordinarily handsome figure to advantage. This was May Alcott. Her face was not beautiful, according to classical standards, but the liveliness of expression and the intelligence and gayety that shone from it led one to overlook any want of harmony in her features...Full of the joy of living, her enthusiasm was easily stirred in almost any worth-while direction...May was fond of her home and a quite ideal relationship existed between her and her father and mother and sisters. She, more than the others, contributed to the lively and gay element in the household. One felt that here indeed, "people were of more importance than things."

Miss Alcott was devoted to her art and gave to it the best of her enthusiastic nature. She had talent and training, and her works, particularly her water colors, have a very distinct charm. Her sketches are still eagerly sought, both for their intrinsic value and for their association with the name of Alcott."

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