The Charleston Renaissance chronicles this dynamic period (1920–1945) of modern southern history, detailing the artistic legacy of native and national artists whose collective image making led to Charleston's transformation from a faded southern port city to a premier tourist destination. Martha Severens, an art historian, curator, and former Charleston resident, introduces readers to the city's traditions and lore, and delineates their impact on the art of the day. Through her examination of major local figures of the period, such as Alfred Hutty, Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, Anna Heyward Taylor, and Elizabeth O'Neill Verner, and of visiting artists—including Birge Harrison, Childe Hassam, Edward Hopper, and Lilla Cabot Perry—Severens expands upon existing scholarship, adding new depth and dimension to both the period and the place. Ultimately, by connecting the artistic advances in Charleston to the greater American art scene, Severens brings clarity to the "ancient, beautiful" city's vital role in southern art and American regionalism.
As curator of collections at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, Martha R. Severens came to recognize the role of twentieth-century artists in shaping the image of the city as an attractive tourist destination. She is now curator at the Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, South Carolina. She is also the author of Greenville County Museum of Art: The Southern Collection, and Andrew Wyeth: America's Painter.