Quick Reference

Time Period:
"Painted about 1930" - RSW

Leyden Village, Mass.
Down the hill from town hall

Oil on Canvas


Houses, People & Livestock

25 x 30





"I have always considered this one of my finest expressions, perfectly painted, really "big" picture, but it has never been very popular with the public." RSW

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Featured Artwork: The Genial Old House

RSW's Diary Comments

"Painted about 1930. The front facade and ell of a rare old house in Leyden village. House the main subject, weather beaten old white paint, with faded battered old green blinds, very fascinating to me. I have always considered this one of my finest expressions, perfectly painted, really "big" picture, but it has never been very popular with the public. Farmer"s wife in black with black cat in front yard."

Excerpt from RSW Diary
Excerpt from an RSW painting diary:

Comments on the back of a sepia print:

"One of my most loved canvases. House faded white, much weathered, soaking in the sun, faded green blinds. Delicate and lovely in color. Outstanding canvas."

Transcription of diary excerpt:

"Had early supper and in the evening decided to go over Leyden way, look up Mr. --d Mrs. Sloane, to see their place --d show them the painting of "The Genial Old House", up Colrain --d West Leyden way. There had been a shower over there and the roads and landscape were cool and damp. Finally found the Sloanes beautiful house up this Leyden Guilford Road - but to my disappointment they were not in. Waited in the car..."

Additional Notes

Picture of house today.
An old photograph of the Genial Old House from
what we believe was a number of years after
and perhaps a casualty of the depression.

To the left: is an old 8 x 10" photograph of the house appearing in this artwork. We believe it was taken a number of years later. Note that the white paint is barely visible; all of the shutters have been removed; the bush by the front stoop is cut down; and there is a missing windowpane, as well as, a broken pane in the top row of windows. The painting was made in 1929 and this could be anytime after that, perhaps a decade later. It is possible that the house was going to get a makeover and Woodward went to Leyden to photograph the house before it happened.

We believe this painting is the second in a series of "editorial paintings" Woodward made during the height of the depression. It was followed by paintings like Contentment, Portrait of a Shadow, New England Heritage, and Passing New England among others.

Picture of house today.
The Genial Old House as it looks today

The chalk version of this painting first exhibited in December 1929 at the Pynchon Gallery in Springfield, MA, a little more than a month after Black Tuesday (October 29, 1929) that set off the stock market crash that led to the depression. Woodward notes in his diary comment that, "it has never been very popular with the public," and perhaps the reason was the climate of the initial shock of the tragedy.

Pre-dating this painting was Country Piazza (May of 1929) which grew in popularity over time making a stir at the 1933 Chicago World Fair. The financial collapse came to a head in October but the trouble started in March of 1929 when the Federal Reserve issued a warning of excessive speculation spurring the first round of the crisis with investors selling large shares in the market. Woodward's perspective was often very clear in his message of "going on" in a calm and persevering manner. In the article below from the Pynchon exhibit, its reviewer, Jeanette Matthews, points out his persistent appreciation for the "homeliness" which recurs in his work. This is the essence of all of his editorial paintings, the refuge of home as a shelter.

Springfield Republican, 1929, by Jeanette C. Matthews

Picture of house today.