Never-before-seen Woodward paintings on view

  • A Robert Strong Woodward landscape of Old Main Street in Deerfield. The Pocumtuk Valley Memorial Association (PVMA) is partnering with the Friends of Robert Strong Woodward to host an exhibition of 20 of Woodward's paintings. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • A still life painting by Robert Strong Woodward. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/16/2022 1:22:21 PM
Modified: 9/16/2022 1:18:28 PM

DEERFIELD — To honor Robert Strong Woodward, a local 20th-century painter and Pocumtuk Valley Memorial Association (PVMA) member, the museum is hosting an exhibition with some never-before-seen works.

At Memorial Hall Museum, PVMA and the Friends of Robert Strong Woodward are honoring the Buckland painter, who lived from 1885 to 1957 and is known for his landscape works, with “The Living Landscape,” an exhibition free to the public featuring 20 of the artist’s works.

PVMA Curator Ray Radigan said they’ve partnered with the Friends of Robert Strong for “many years,” but this is the first time they’ve held an exhibition featuring the artist’s work since 2019.

“We preserve the art, history and culture of the region,” Radigan said. “(The exhibition) is definitely in line with our mission to tell the region’s story and his work certainly did that.”

Among several awards, Woodward earned the Boston Tercentenary Exhibition gold medal in 1930. He lived and worked in Franklin County throughout his life. At the age of 21, Woodward suffered an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound that left him paralyzed from the waist down. On top of the injury, three of Woodward’s studios burned down throughout his life. Despite those setbacks, Woodward gained national recognition through his New England landscape paintings.

“One of the things I think is interesting about Woodward is realizing how much he overcame to become the person he was … because his work does not really convey all that,” Radigan said. “My reading of it was this (painting) was very much an escape for him. His happy place, so to speak.”

Primarily working in oils and pastels, Woodward’s main focus was New England landscapes, particularly in Franklin County, and “window paintings,” which are a combination of still-life and landscape views painted from the view of his desk.

One example Radigan highlighted was a painting of Old Main Street in Old Deerfield showing a lush, green landscape with an old New England home tucked behind a tree.

“It’s right down the street from us,” Radigan added.

Many of the 20 works featured in the exhibition have not been exhibited since the 1930s or have just been discovered, according to a press release.

Radigan said the exhibition is free and open to everyone and no advanced reservation is necessary. The exhibition will run from Sept. 10 to Oct. 30 at Memorial Hall Museum, 10 Memorial St., which is open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day except for Monday.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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