Quick Reference

Time Period:
Painted in 1934.

Pasture of the Keach farm
Charlemont Road, Buckland, Mass.

Oil on Canvas


Pastures, Farms

30 X 36

The Boston Herald Bldg, May '34
Williston Academy, 1934
Concord (MA) Art Association, '34
Binghampton (NY) MFA, 1934
Macbeth Galleries (NYC), 1935
Jordan March Galleries, 1935
Deerfield Academy, 1935
Vose Gallery, Boston, 1935 -'36

Mr. and Mrs. Alfred P. Lowell



"One of the finest of my paintings, to my mind..." RSW

Related Links

Featured Artwork: From a May Pasture

RSW's Diary Comments

From a May Pasture
A close up picture of RSW's signature

"Painted in 1934. Painted from Keach's pasture of their twin barns, the last spring before my fire, for Mr. Bowlen of Roger, Bowlen and Lunt, at his request, but he died just as the canvas was finished and to everyone's surprise his widow and family refused to honor the order. One of the finest of my paintings, to my mind; was generally exhibited and illustrated and finally bought by Mr. and Mrs. Alfred P. Lowell of 64 Mt. Vernon St., Boston---from my exhibition at the Vose Galleries, Boston, Mass. "$600 less 25%= $450"

Clipping from the Boston Herald, August 26, 1934
From a May Pasture Article
Note that this clipping in the Boston Herald
appears just months after the painting hung in
the Herald's headquarters in Boston.

Comments on the back of a sepia print:

"Fine, solid modeling of foreground, so you feel and sense the rocky earth."

"This is the painting I made in May, by the direct request of Mr. William Bowlen of Holyoke, who suddenly died while it was still fresh on the easel before he ever saw it. It has been hoped, up to just within a day or two, that his widow, Mrs. Bowlen, would still purchase it. She admires it, with great intensity---but last Saturday, to my deepest disappointment, she came to the studio returning the painting. (She had asked to have it come to her home from Easthampton,) saying that until the estate was settled, she dared not spend the $750---although that was the price that Mr. Bowlen had agreed to pay for it. It is unquestionably one of the finest pieces of painting I have done. The photograph looks rather dull and heavy, whereas it is subtle with delicate spring yellows, and pinks and early green, with a lucid brilliant sky and one of the finest modeled foregrounds I ever painted. One feels the rocks and construct of the earth elements under the thin new pasture grass. Sometime I hope you see this in the original. It is 30 x 36."

Comments in a notebook by RSW:

"Sent by R. R. Express, in one crate, From a May Pasture thru J.W. McBrine, packer, 162 Newbury Street, to go to the Jordan Marsh Company for their Annual Art Week Exhibition, held at their Department Store. Paintings there are insured during exhibition. The exhibition is supposed to be for one week from April 7th to 13th but every year, so far, they have kept the show over for two full weeks."

"June 19, 1935. A crate was sent to Newport, Rhode Island, to enter an exhibition held by the Art Association of Newport, 76 Bellevue Ave. From a May Pasture 30 x 36 (Exhibition July 13th to August 3rd."

Additional Notes

Unsourced Clipping from 9 April, 1935
Unsourced Clipping from 9 April, 1935

To the right: is an article that just may be the detonator that caused quite a riff between RSW and his friend artist Stanley W. Woodward. Not only did Stanley leave his coastal haunts around Rockport, MA, to paint Woodward's beloved Halixfax House but when this painting AND Stanley's Halifax House painting, And Life Goes On, exhibit at the 1935 Jordan Marsh show the clipping to the left CLUMPS them together like they are brothers, and gives more attention and praise to Stanley's Halifax House calling it "one of his best".

And Life Goes On
Stanley W. Woodward's And Life Goes On, 1935
New York Herald Tribune's Sunday mag. 6 April, 1940

Excerpt from the article:

"The Woodwards, Robert Strong and Stanley, are related only in their approach to their mutual choice of subject matter; the shifts of summer light over old farm buildings. Robert Strong Woodward sends a canvas shown in his memorable exhibition of last summer at the Concord Art Association. It is 'From a May Pasture,' and reveals in impeccable allegiance to farm detail the epic of life and lazy quiet afternoons in springtime pastures of Vermont. Stanley Woodward shows one of his best canvases, also a New England scene. 'And Life Goes On,' is a crumbling red farmhouse, too old and tired to be spruce any longer even under the encouragement of the clear yellow sun falling on its every sagging clapboard, the artist investing this inevitable decay with an antique charm." [ The emphasis added is ours ]

New England Heritage
New England Heritage, 1932   (BAC- 2nd prize)
In a profile by the UMass Collegian in 1935, this
painting was cited to be, "His finest canvas."

There are several points to be made how this one event in 1935 in linked to other issues Woodward is having during a time of his greatest success:

1RSW could not have been pleased to be paired with Stanley Woodward in this particular instance, under these circumstances because of the subject of Stanley's painting being that of the Halifax House. What are the chances this event in this article would clump the two together as if they were practically brother. Woodward not only considers the Halifax House HIS discovery but his winning the second prize at the 1932 Boston Art Club (BAC) annual exhibition with New England Heritage is cited in a number of articles between '32 and 1935 as being his "painting of note" of his career!

2RSW gets knocked a bit for From a May Pasture having already had its day the previous year at Concord. It feels like a left-handed praise that is really a slight- RSW recycled a painting from a previous exhibition. However, Stanley has a brand-spanking-new-out-of-this-world painting, and possibly his BEST of all time. and And this is somewhat fair, if not embarrassing for RSW. The Jordan Marsh show is a BIG deal. It kicks off what is called "Art Week in Boston." A lot of organizations participate by having featured exhibits of work in their galleries. This is in fact the same week RSW won his second prize award for New England Heritage at the BAC.

House in Halifax
House in Halifax, 1936
Misappropriated by Yankee Magazine to accompany a
poem about the Maine Shoreline by John Schaffner III.
The magazine had the picture to go with a featured
article on RSW. The issue postponed the feature 2yrs,

3Also, the two Woodwards gets described as painting similar scenes and having similar interest but Stanley is clearly known for his seascapes and Woodward had only ever made one in his career and it was a gift to a family who hosted him at their place on Oyster Bay in the cape. Stanley even wrote two books on the subject of "marine painting" and is considered among the leading artist of the Rockport (MA) School along with Andrew Theime.

4This is the first real serious incident of another artist encroaching on RSW's particular brand. Next would be artist John Whorf's apparent plagiarism of RSW's celebrated painting, Country Piazza in 1938 and Yankee Magazine's misappropriation of his painting of the Halifax House (on the left) by linking it to the Maine shoreline the same year.

5There is also a link between From a May Pasture's buyer dying before completion of the painting and the sudden death of Francis P. Garvan who commissioned RSW to make a series of historic and architecturally significant churches to be given to the Yale University Art Museum as part of the Mabel B. Garvan Collection of early American crafts, furnishing, and home decor. Mrs. Garvan also did not honor the contact leaving RSW on the hook for 4 completed paitings, and several others in various stages of completion in 1937.

New England Heritage
Enduring New England, 1931
The ONLY painting to make it into the Garvan Collection

6Stanley Woodward's intrusion into RSW's area, and what RSW considered his brand also links to a story we are working on regarding churches as it relates to this painting and brand in general. Many link RSW to the typical "New England Village and Church" but it is really the village itself, not the church. Find us a village center without a church in New England? You won't because there isn't any. Woodward became linked to the New England Church scene through a twist of fate when the year after he painted Enduring New England the early period church tragically burned and the architect hired to rebuild the new church saw Enduring New England hanging in Macbeth Galleries in NYC and asked if he could use the painting to create the new design. This then led to RSW meeting Francis P. Garvan and the Garvan Commission. Other than the Mary Lyon Church down the street from his last studio, RSW did not feature any other church in any of his work. It is the village center of Buckland but also, named after the town's most famous resident, educator Mary Lyon, founder of Mount Holyoke College. The Garvan church paintings all went unsold, we believe, because he did not want to be associated specifically painting churches.

Twin Barns
Twin Barns, 1931
A chalk drawing from the same pasture as From a May
gives a closer view of the two barns. It is im-
portant to note that 1934 is around the time RSW stops
painting from the Keach farm. The reason is unknown.
From a May Pasture may be the last one.

While we are sure Woodward's had some hurt feelings and his pride most likely piqued by the incident, him and Stanley made up sometime afterwards. Dr. Mark, the website's founder and Woodward beneficiary, writes how the two artist would paint together, even at the Heath Pasture property on Burnt Hill (Woodward's most personal of places). When Stanley went off to serve in WWII, Woodward insisted Mark visit him when he served in the Army Air Corps. The uncomfortable meeting is wonderfully told by Dr. Mark in his own words through the following link. CLICK HERE

One final say on the matter of this painting's journey. While Woodward claimed in his diary comments, "One of the finest of my paintings, to my mind;" it would seem to us that it somehow lost favor with him, that perhaps the Jordan Marsh show tainted his feelings for the painting. Of the 10 or so paintings he claims to be his favorites, he loved 8 of them so much he could let go and the two others went to close friends! This painting almost comes with relief that it is gone. After that remark, he plainly expresses, "[it] was generally exhibited and illustrated and finally bought." It is the word "finally" that grabs our attention. There is something disappointing to its tone. Is it that the buyer died before it was completed? That it took longer than expected to sell? Or is it perhaps that after the Jordan Marsh Exhibition, he was glad to finally be rid of it?

Winter Orchard
Winter Orchard, 1946  First Prize
Jordan Marsh's Annual Art Week Exhibition, 1946

The Bright Side Although Woodward's experience with this painting, as well as the other artist mentioned, was difficult and unpleasant at the time he was living it. Its long range impact can be seen in a much more positive light. One of the factors taken into account when trying to establish one's legacy, whether it be in business, sports, politics, or art, especially art, it is not only how much influence you had but WHO did you influence? In terms of legacy, Stanley Woodward and John Whorf's legacies are considered far more significant than Woodward's presently. There isn't even a Wikipedia page for Robert! And Wikipedia will not let us write one due to our "inherent bias." Stanley and Whorf make a number of list among this country's "greatest" painters/artists. The Nation Gallery website once held such a list of the top 2,500 America artist and Robert Strong Woodward was not among them.

However, Whorf was listed, as was Lester Stevens (see Farmer's Castle), Gardner Symons, and of course Stanley Wingate Woodward... another artist on the list was Anthony Thieme, who also exhibited at Jordan Marsh and is mentioned in the article above, and who Woodward knew and bested in the 1927 Springfield Art League Annual Exhibition winning first prize for best landscape with When Drifts Melt Fast. Thieme is considered the founder of the Rockport (MA) School to which Stanley Woodward is included. Our Woodward won four prizes over the years at the Jordan Marsh Spring Exhibition- 1 first overall prize (1946), and in the same year also won one of his two honorable mentions (the other was 1948), and in 1932 won 4th place honors with New England Origins the same week and year he took second prize at the BAC with New England Heritage. It is just something to think about.