Quick Reference

Time Period:
Painted in 1935

Halifax House, Halifax, VT

Oil on Canvas


Halifax House, Houses

30 x 36

Southern Vermont AA, 1940
The 1954 Founders Exhibition

Grand Central Art Galleries of N. Y



Upon hearing that the Halifax House was to be sold, RSW went there to paint this last image of his "loved" Halifax House, with the hope that the new buyer would purchase the painting. She did, "on the spot!"

She later returned it to RSW for fear it would get damaged after the start of WWII.

Related Links

Featured Artwork: The Grace of Years (Originally named Grace of Ages)

RSW's Diary Comments

Grace of Years, Sepia
Grace of Years, Sepia which is such a blurry
image we cannot use it as the featured picture
above. The image above is from an exhibit catalog.

"Painted in 1935. A painting with an unusual history! The first painting I made following my disastrous fire in 1934 (after which I didn't paint for just a year, while I made over the Buckland house and studio.) A very superb picture of my loved Halifax house, and half of the main house with gable and all the tumbled down ell (before restored) with sunlight and shade on the building with giant elm and maples before it and a foreground of uncut grass, daisies, buttercups, devil's paint brush etc. A grand expression of old, fading N.E! Hearing during the winter 1934-5 that a N.Y. woman had bought 'my' Halifax House and that I was to meet her there July 1st, I made this my first painting when I again took up my work, hoping to sell it to her. Went to meet her July 1st taking the new canvas. She bought it for $650 on the spot! Mrs. E. Sherman Harris, "Cedar Ledges", Wappingers Falls, N. Y. She bought several chalk

Clipping from a newspaper
A clipping from a newspaper of Grace of Years

drawings later and tried to give me the house and whole farm, after she had restored it, which I refused to accept! After she had had the canvas for 6 years and been keen about it, she gave it back, unattached, to me because she felt, after our war was declared that the Germans were going to bomb her district about West Point first, and thus would destroy the painting! Hence at the date of this writing I again own the painting! (Dec. 1946). Bought by Grand Central Art Galleries of N. Y. for the 1954 Founders Exhibition April, 1954."

Comment on the back of a sepia print:

"An old red house in Halifax, Vt. with magnificent elms and maples guarding it. Have painted this house many times. Mrs. Kohl owns a smaller painting of the front of the house."

Editor's Note:

Grace of Years, Sepia
New England Heritage, 1932
In Grace of Years the building appears close to
collapse. Here you can see its condition just 3 years prior.
Visit House in Halifax to see the difference in 1936.

Woodward moved into the Southwick Studio in March of 1935, nine months after lightning struck his Hiram Woodward Place causing a fire that destroys most of the house and all of the studio. His first painting of the Halifax House is reportedly New England Heritage (1932) that won second prize at the Boston Art Club's annual exhibit held during Boston's "Art Week" held every Spring.

The woman Woodward is describing comes across as eccentric if not, somewhat batty (forgive us for saying so). She gives him back the painting in fear it will be destroyed by Germans and then ALSO tries to give him the house itself? How rich is she? We could not find a single hit in any web search we could muster.

What is really special about this painting is how it shows the deterioration of the building, particularly the barn annex, from 1932 to 1935. Not only has the roof opened up more but the clapboard under the ell has fallen away as well.

The exhibition records show a little bit of the odd journey this painting takes. Made in 1935, it doesn't exhibit until 1940, most likely the year Mrs. Harris gave the painting back to Woodward. There is nothing for six years and then it is selected as one of the paintings featured in American Artists Magazine's 1946 feature on the artist. This is a BIG deal. This is a prestigious magazine. People typically do not think of these things from this perspective but what appears in the feature is something that is negotiated by the magazine's editors and Woodward. The artist has to approve the use of those images (see House in Halifax for the story on Yankee Magazine's misuse of that art work) and probably has some say as to what paintings appear.

But what does one make of the years until it exhibits again when the Grand Central Art Gallery (GCAG) buys the painting from Woodward for its Founders' Day Exhibition in 1954. This is another honor. The GCAG's Founders show was its annual fund raising event. The gallery bought the paintings from their member artist at a wholesale price to be re-sold by the Gallery for a profit. The gallery administration was quite selective in what it allowed in the show. It had to hold a certain quality.

Additional Notes

The Manchester (VT) Journal, August 29, 1940

"...The Grace of Age, (name later changed to The Grace of Years) an old worse-for-wear New England farm home, is the subject, resting peacefully beneath large trees in the warm sun."

Below: A scanned excerpt from a letter where RSW made mention of this piece and saying of the Halifax house, "As I first found it years ago..." and since, "...quite successfully restored."

Handwritten comment by RSW in a letter.