A Shaker sister's drawings: wild plants illustrated by Cora Helena Sarle
Monacelli Press, Mar 1, 1997 - Antiques & Collectibles - 144 pages
Over one hundred years ago, a young woman at Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire was considered too frail to take part in the rigorous daily duties of the working Shaker Sisters. Yet Cora Helena Sarle had a talent for art, and the spiritual leader of the community, Elder Henry Clay Blinn, suggested that she use her gift for the good of the communal family. Thus she began her task of recording all the wild plants, herbs, and flowers around the village.
In two modest notebooks, leaving no room for mistakes, young Helena filled page after page with more than 180 exquisite color illustrations, exceptional for both their accuracy and their delicacy. Each drawing is complemented by the specific growing conditions of the wild and cultivated plants. With this work, she joined a Shaker tradition of creating maps and "gift drawings" that relayed the message and passion of the group's calling.
This lovely facsimile captures the life and times not only of Cora Helena Sarle but of Canterbury Shaker Village in the 1880s. Essays by noted Shaker expert June Sprigg and Village president Scott T. Swank illuminate the patterns of daily living in the nineteenth-century community. And of course, Helena's exquisite drawings bring to life the extensive Canterbury property, and reveal the inspirational gifts of their creator.
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