In 1996, Victoria was proud to have Tasha Tudor as an artist in residence. Together, Tasha and I agreed that she would create four watercolors, each depicting a different season, for the magazine's readers. We made prints of these delightful renderings available for purchase as each was created, and then all four in a set. We even created a Christmas tin at one point.
Tasha Tudor, the creator of many scenes from her Vermont farm life, is still very beloved for her books and her artwork. The marriage of Victoria and Tasha was a natural one--following on several wonderful stories in the magazine, including a Christmas with all the trimmings of the 19th century life she lived so faithfully.
When we began her residency in January, Tasha wrote me a letter--long hand, of course. It was also illustrated with the image of one of her cats, who had been naughty and stepped in the butter and then on to the writing paper. In true Tasha spirit, it was kind, lively, and very New England. Tasha wanted to be sure that I would give her enough time to do her assignments. After all, she reminded me, she did not just sit and create all day long. She had many chores to do about the farm and in my letter was a list of her responsibilities that is quite complete.
The watercolors came in a timely manner and were featured in the magazine throughout 1996. And so the readers experienced many of the enchantments of Tasha-land. Many bought the prints, and it was a very successful venture. In the end, Tasha received her original work back and I put the letter away with the memory of the experience.
Not long ago, the letter surfaced again, and I began to think that it should not be hidden away in a file in my office any longer. I began to search for a permanent place or archive for Tasha's illustrated letter to me. Recently, I found the proper place: The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. My correspondence with Stephanie Plunkett, curator, has been delightful. The museum has a collection of Tasha's illustrative work and often exhibits. (In fact, there is a traveling exhibition planned for 2012.) And so the letter is now in a place where others can enjoy the spirit of this remarkable woman that is in every word and line. Puss and the butter make it especially charming.
I minded Tasha and did give her ample time to create and she was so gracious to wish me a very happy 1996. It turned out to be so--and one of the years of the magazine that I especially admire all these years later. The prints have increased in value, as has the original artwork: One season sold a few years ago for $8500. Of course, it is not the monetary value that matters most, but the inspiration for Tasha to give us the seasons of her long life.
If you missed the features in Victoria, you can order cards online. There are two sets and I have a feeling you will only part with the cards for very special reasons.