The highlight from our collection: The Clam Diggers: WHS2013.3 is a beautiful wood engraving by Clare Leighton 153/250, signed and undated. It depicts 4 clam diggers working at low tide. It was generously donated by Julie Heller.
Clare Veronica Hope Leighton (1898 - 1989) was an English/American artist, writer and illustrator, best known for her wood engravings.
Wood engravers use burins and scorpers, tools that are small and offer the potential for exceptionally fine detail. Nine inches in diameter is quite large for a wood engraving and Leighton’s blocks were made up of many small pieces of boxwood. She approached wood engraving by working from dark to light, removing wood to clarify her image.
She emigrated to the U.S. in 1939 and moved to New England after being commissioned to create “New England Industries” plates for Wedgwood. This series of wood engravings would become ceramic plates.
She wrote of the commission, “Here, now, was my chance to discover New England. For always, I have found, the one way to learn the life of a land is to work upon it whether with plow or pencil.” The three years required for research and execution of the project taught her to love the region. New England was to become her permanent home. Clare Leighton lived in Wellfleet for many years, she was represented by the Left Bank Gallery in Wellfleet and she designed several stained glass windows for the Wellfleet Methodist Church.