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Alcott, Louisa May.

Concord Sketches.


Illustrated by May Alcott
(Alcott, Louisa May) Concord Sketches.  Consisting of twelve photographs from original drawings by May Alcott.  Boston: Fields, Osgood & Co., 1869.
4to.; green cloth, stamped in gilt; illustrated pages tipped-in; all edges gilt; edgeworn.
First deluxe edition, 160 copies, the entire edition.  With a preface and captions by Louisa May Alcott.  A collection of twelve of May Alcott's sketches of the homes and landscape views in Concord, MA.  The book is divided up into chapters devoted to the famous authors who lived in Concord: Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, and of course, Alcott.  May's drawings of the estates are interspersed with quotations about each other and their connection to Concord and excerpts from their writings.  Louisa's preface reads in part:
The homes and haunts of Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, and Alcott…well it is believed to be a welcome gift to those who reverence the poets and philosophers who have succeeded the old patriots…These sketches, from a student's portfolio, claim no merit as works of art, but are only valuable as souvenirs, which owe their chief charm to the associations that surround them, rather than to any success in the execution of a labor of love, prompted by the natural desire to do honor to one's birthplace.
Concord Sketches was priced at an astronomical $10 in 1870, which explains why copies are relatively scarce.
The inspiration for the character Amy March in Little Women, Abigail May Alcott (1840-1879) showed a penchant for art at a very young age.  She painted decorative figures all around Orchard House and sold some of her early work to contribute to the family's paltry income.  At a Boston design school, she studied under William Morris Hunt and William Rimmer.  Her formal introduction into the art world came in 1868, when she was asked by sister Louisa to illustrate Little Women.  Though May's somewhat rudimentary drawings were not critically well received, the financial success of the book enabled her to travel to Europe to continue her studies.  In 1877, her work was exhibited in the Paris Salon and she married Ernest Nieriker, a man fifteen years her junior.  In addition to Concord Sketches, May published Studying Art Abroad, and How to do it Cheaply (1879).  She died of meningitis in 1879 after giving birth to daughter, Lulu.  According to her wishes, Lulu was raised by Louis in Concord, and Louisa's book, Lulu's Library, is a three-volume series of fables dedicated to her niece.    

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