SALEM – The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association has been awarded a grant of $7,800 from the Wyeth Foundation for American Art to support the restoration of “Flight into Egypt,” a Sophia Peabody Hawthorne painting believed to have belonged to The Gables’ founder Caroline Emmerton.
Before her marriage to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sophia Amelia Peabody Hawthorne (1809–1871) became one of America’s first professional women artists. She exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum and was known for her oil paintings, illustrations and sculptures. She apprenticed with three of America’s most influential early painters — Chester Harding, Washington Allston and Thomas Doughty. The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association is honored to hold in its permanent collection perhaps her largest extant oil painting, “Flight into Egypt, painted circa 1834. The painting is inspired by the biblical story of Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus fleeing to Egypt to escape King Herod.
Conservation efforts for the painting began in 2019. The project is directed and managed by The Gables’ Collections Manager Susan Baker, with hands-on conservation by Theresa Byington Carmichael of Carmichael Art Conservation.
“Conservation of this rare and important work will allow us to continue exhibiting it prominently in the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, seen by over 100,000 visitors per year,” says Baker. “This restoration will help properly position Sophia Peabody in the pantheon of America’s earliest professional artists and give credit for her artistic accomplishments, beyond her well-known role as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s wife and muse.”
“Flight into Egypt” was removed from display at The Gables on March 7 and will return in six months after repairs addressing water damage, tears, burns, grime, dirt and failed past restorations are made. Conservation of the painting will not only highlight the talent of Sophia Peabody Hawthorne, but will also provide the level of care and stewardship the painting deserves. This is the first in a series of conservation projects planned for paintings related to the women of The Gables.
Register early for tea service and presentation on Sophia’s art
On Sunday, April 30, The House of the Seven Gables will host A Tea for Caroline, a spring fundraiser to celebrate the grant from the Wyeth Foundation, and to honor founder Caroline Emmerton and her birthday. The public is invited to enjoy the spring gardens and see paintings from The Gables’ collection. The event will also include a brief presentation on Sophia Peabody Hawthorne’s life and work, and an afternoon tea service catered by Mary Ferreira, with teas provided by Jolie Tea Co. All proceeds from ticket sales benefit conservation and preservation programs for The House of Seven Gables. Please purchase tickets early as there is limited seating available. The last day to register is April 18.
About The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association
The mission of The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association is to be a welcoming, thriving, historic site and community resource that engages people of all backgrounds in our inclusive American story. For more information visit www.7gables.org
The Gables’ Collections Manager Susan Baker and Conservator Theresa Byington Carmichael remove Sophia Peabody Hawthorne’s “Flight into Egypt” from The House of the Seven Gables for conservation work expected to take six months.