Piles of books and magazines surround me covering all available surfaces of my desk. The scene: embarrassing. I’ll admit I’ve developed an unhealthy obsession buying books on preservation, decorating and design. I do have an excuse for the mess; my books are awaiting a home on the bookshelves Greg promised to build me in the little room. The book hoarding, no.
Of all the books I’ve collected this year—new and old—three published between 1940-1972 by Samuel Chamberlain and his wife Narcissa Chamberlains were my absolute favorite. The books have offered me inspiration for my home and inspiration for photographs I’ve taken for this blog.
Samuel Chamberlain was an artist, writer, photographer, printmaker who published over eighty books on design. He began his career as an architect and a renowned etcher and moved to Marblehead in 1934 where his focus shifted to photography. A series of photo books were published as part of “American Landmark” series including Old Marblehead: A Camera Impression and Ever New England. In 1972, Chamberlain and his wife published, The Chamberlain Selection of New England Room 1639-1863 depicting historic interiors throughout New England. Below a look inside each of these books.
Old Marblehead: A Camera Impression depicts scenes of winter, summer and fall in early 1940’s in Marblehead. Chamberlain writes “closely built on its ledges of rocks, and amazingly well-preserved despite two fires, Marblehead still presents to the visitor the picture of an ancient New England town”. This statement was true in 1940 and still is today. Marblehead is picturesque and one of the most beautiful preserved historic towns in New England. Chamberlain’s photographs offer unique perspectives on buildings I walk past everyday. I really enjoyed viewing the town through another set of eyes—a book I’ll treasure for years to come.
Ever New England is similar to Old Marblehead: A Camera Impression but covers scenes from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Images of boat yards, historic home and fields offer a look into rural life in the early forties. Quiet images captivate me. In a modern world full of photoshop photography Chamberlain offers a different perspective. The photographs are honest, slow, filled with an energy of curiosity in the day-to-day.
The Chamberlain Selection of New England Rooms, 1639-1863 showcases historic interiors from all over New England. The photos offered me inspiration for how to organize furniture in my house as well as what type of pieces the rooms could have been furnished with. Beautiful photographs of field-paneled mantels and gorgeous examples of wing chairs and tables captivated me.