Quick Reference

Time Period:
Prior to 1927

Herbert Keach Farm
Avery Road, Buckland, MA

Oil on Canvas



Originally 40 x 50
cut down to 24 x 36.

Springfield Art League, 1927
Springfield Art League, 1933
Myles Standish Hotel, Boston, 1944

Still in the Woodward estate.

Widely exhibited in the early 1920's.
Still unsold at time of RSW's death.


This early painting deteriorated badly and paint was flecking off over large areas at the bottom. After RSW's death the painting was re-stretched onto a smaller stretcher frame and is now a 24 x 36.

Related Links

Featured Artwork: When Drifts Melt Fast

RSW's Diary Comments

"Painted prior to 1930. A large sugaring picture, hemlock and maple woods, a steep straggly hillside in the foreground, a team of horses drawing a red gathering tub down a rutted wood road in the upper middle distance. Red sap buckets, of course, scattered among the trees, lingering snow drifts here and there. Shown at the  National Academy in N. Y. in...then at the Annual Exhibition of the Springfield Art League (Mass.) where it was awarded in...This canvas hung several seasons in Miss Alice Brown's Sweetheart Tea House.  A very impressive canvas, but never sold (1947)" 

Comments on the back of a sepia print:

"Painted in H. L. Keach's sugar orchard in Buckland. The drawing of the trees is remarkable."

"Awarded First Landscape Prize in 1927, Springfield Art League Exhibition, Springfield, Mass."..

Additional Notes

Springfield Union Nov. 12, 1927
A clipping of The Springfield Union
article transcribed to the left.

Right: The Springfield Union, November 12, 1927

Article Summary: Announcement of the opening of Springfield Art League's ninth special exhibition of oil paints. The article also list the show's prize winners, including RSW who won $100 prize for best landscape.

When your cursor changes to this symbol, the image can be enlarged simply by clicking on it.

Below: The Springfield Union, Date Unknown

Springfield Union Nov. 12, 1927
A clipping of The Springfield Union article,
reviewer and date are unknown

Excerpt: The Springfield Union, Date Unknown

"Here is a New England scene distilled to its poetical essence in color and light, a thawing muddy wood road, snow filled to the ruts, the bare maple trees each flaunting a scarlet sap bucket and yonder in the distance the plodding team and rough wagon with the driver who has been collecting the sap. The creation of still, sparkling cold with no medium but paint, is achievement enough. One detailed comment I cannot forbear, the drawing of the trees is remarkable. With full light upon the bare trunks and leaden sky behind them they have been almost outlined in black and the further emphasis this gives the light upon them as well as the way it makes them live is surprising.   Mr. Woodward seems to have identified  himself in spirit with his trees.:"

This piece is related to both Sap Gathering and Gathering Sap, as seen below. This was something Woodward would do fairly often when an artwork was well praised and in demand. In some instances, he would even name them the same but not in this case.

Excerpt: B. K. , June 23, 1928

".....perhaps the most splendid of the entire lot is, however, done on a sunless day---a gloriously brilliant hillside, presumably in Vermont, of which one remembers best bluest sky and bright red buckets on the sugar maples.  This is Robert Strong Woodward's When Drifts Melt Fast.  It won a prize from the Springfield Art League and it is easy to see why....."

Excerpt: Boston Globe, May, 1929 by A. J. Philpott

"It is no wonder that the big picture, When Drifts Melt Fast, took first prize at the Springfield Art League Show a few years ago.   For that is a notable picture, not only in the virile manner  in which it is painted, but in the whole character of the composition...."

Excerpt: Flora White, Heath, June 3, 1931

"A brilliant work, full of the vitality and rhythm of spring surgings, red buckets on gray trunks, horses in the distance dragging their load of gathered sap - sunshine, promise, flickering through the leafless branches - but the inner meaning of the scene is conveyed in the deep irregular ruts of the foreground which the load has left in its trail."