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Sabina Elliott Wells
Newcomb College Newcomb Ceramicist
(Charleston, SC, 1876 - 1943, Hoopers Creek, NC)
Sabina Elliott Wells was Newcomb College graduate who was an artist, designer, and book illustrator.
Born July 5, 1876 in Charleston, South Carolina, Wells’s tenure at Newcomb College was brief, lasting from 1902–1904 . Though not with the Newcomb Art industry for long, noted art historian Jessie Poesch noted that Wells created some of the pottery’s most impressive pieces. “Her boldly incised motifs show both close observation of nature and a strong sense of design,” writes Poesch. Three examples of Well’s work were shown in at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held at St. Louis in 1904, and though she left Newcomb some years before, examples of her work were shown in the Newcomb exhibits at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915.
An account in “Harlequin” on June 23, 1904 stated about her work: “For originality and bold, vigorous, well constructed design, Miss Sabina Elliott Wells is most conspicuous…She has the power to use living forms in design with a success not very usual, retaining the swing and movement of life in the lines of her composition as you see in those fish and wave and shell-fish plates of hers, where beyond question she has succeeded in a very difficult form of design.”
Mary Givens Sheerer noted that Wells did “very scholarly and original work” but she left the Newcomb Pottery because “she found it impractical to live here – the climate did not agree with her.” Wells left New Orleans and moved back to Charleston, where she illustrated books, and performed design work with D. F. Hayne & Sons, the Nickell Magazine, Scribner’s Magazine and the Chesapeake Pottery in Baltimore, Maryland.
Sabina Elliot Wells died June 13, 1943 after a fourday stay in the Mountain Sanitarium, Hooper’s Creek, North Carolina. She was just shy of her 67th birthday.