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Recent Acquisitions: Percy MacKaye Family Photographs

Hood Quarterly, spring 2008

The Hood Museum of Art recently acquired by purchase and gift from Marion MacKaye Ober a group of photographs that descended in the family of dramatist and poet Percy MacKaye (1875–1956). MacKaye was an active member of the Cornish, New Hampshire, art colony and is best known locally and nationally for having played an important role in reviving interest in poetic drama in the early twentieth century. A large collection of his papers is in Dartmouth’s Rauner Special Collections Library.

Among the photographs acquired by the Hood are portraits of MacKaye family members by Doris Ulmann and Arnold Genthe, including a rare Genthe autochrome (the earliest viable color photography process) of MacKaye’s daughter Arvia in its original viewing case. A photograph by Alice Boughton (1865–1943) depicts the Fuller sisters, singers from Dorset, England, who were pioneers in the collection and performance of folk songs from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. On their frequent American tours they visited Cornish several times, initially at the invitation of Percy and Marion MacKaye. Boughton, a pictorialist photographer of celebrities, captures in this image the picturesque mid-nineteenth-century costumes and dramatic poses of the sisters, who made movement an important aspect of their performances.

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