Paintings by Newburyport artist make a homecoming

January 1, 2013 by  

The Historical Society of Old Newbury welcomed an early Christmas gift in December – as eight pastels were donated to the center.

The set of pastels was delivered by hand to the museum by the family of Laura Coombs Hills (1859 – 1952), the famous Newburyport-born painter.

Curator of the museum, Jay Williamson, said of the donation:

“This is one of the most significant gifts we’ve received since a high chest was given to us by the Noyes family in 1995.”

As well as two landscape paintings, the set chiefly comprises a series of brightly colored floral pictures, which Hills was arguably best-known for.

Williamson added that the new collection will complement the existing works on display in Cushing House Museum, which is located on the city’s High Street. It will amount to one of the biggest ever collections of the artist’s work.

Carol McKinley, who is the daughter of the famous artist’s niece, explained how her mother had always wanted the series of pastels to be returned to New England, as she considered the area central to the artist’s life and work.

The set of paintings made it to Cushing House Museum with the help of researcher and gallery owner Sandy Lepore, who put together a Coombs Hills exhibition back in 1996.

Art exhibitions are often advertised using a mixture of photographs and informative text through professional brochure and flyer printing.

Newburyport artist Coombs Hills grew up on Market Street, near Brown Square. Although not much is known regarding her formal training, research suggests that she received lessons from an art teacher. It is also believed that she likewise trained with fellow Newburyport artist J. Appleton Brown.