Quick Reference

Time Period:

Oyster Harbors
Oysterville, Cape Cod, MA

Chalk Drawing


Brooks, Ponds, Rivers (Water)


Charlotte Gallery & Gift Shop
Garner, MA 1939




This is believed to have been drawn on a visit with friends Henry & Helen Patch on the Cape. As noted by Mrs. Patch in her letters, this is a rarity in RSW's catalogue of work.

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RSW's Diary Comments

Excerpt from the Helen Patch Letters:

First letter:
"... He never went to Europe; he visited us once on Cape Cod and made a couple of crayon drawings of pitch pines and the sea-beyond...

Second letter:
... I always felt that his own tragic limitation prevented not only extensive travel, but ruled out any influence of Cubism, Impressionism and other revolutions in the art of 50 years ago. He was 'Mr. New England' --- accept there was no trace of the ocean's surf or the rocky coast."

Additional Notes

Screen Capture of Oyster Harbors
Screen Capture of Oyster Harbors

Helen Patch and her husband were long time close friends of Woodward. Her recollections of RSW are both intimate and insightful. We learned so much having discovered them sitting in the 1970 Deerfield Academy's American Studies Group Archive in the school's Boyden Library.

Our initial search for "Oyster Harbors" years ago did not really produce good results. There are a number of oyster harbors and bays, etc. The discovery of the Patch letters gave us enough context to look more closely. After confirming, through the Mass Land Records website that the Patch's did in fact have a place in Barnstable, MA, in the village of Oysterville, then we were able to connect this painting to their home there. Up until her letters, we had no idea RSW ever visited the Cape, not to mention her specific mention of him drawing a couple of "crayon drawings" (while RSW called pastels chalks, other called them crayons despite being inaccurate. Crayons are a separate medium entirely).

This is a wonderful discovery because as Mrs. Patch points out, he was 'Mr. New England' without its iconic rocky coast or ocean. Oddly enough, another uncharacteristic chalk, On the Waterfront is also of a sail boat only it is docked in the Boston Harbor. We imagine that one of those drawings went to the Patches as a gift for their hospitality, though she makes no mention of this.

While Woodward had little interest in the over-painted coastline of New England, there is a story of a coastal, seascape artist coming to his neck of the woods to paint causing a bit of a riff between the two friends because of what this artist painted. Read the story by visiting the link below.