Friday, October 27, 2006

Daytrip to the Berkshires

The Sterling and Francine Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA has a wonderful collection of nineteenth century French art. Among its riches are many oils by Renoir in a large room of impressionist paintings. In other galleries are some of John Singer Sargent's and Winslow Homer's best work. Nearby is the Williams College Museum of Art that is purported to also have an excellent collection.

Edith Wharton, the Pulitzer Prize winning author, left Newport, Rhode Island at the end of the 19th century and built a house called The Mount in the Berkshires. It was a writer's retreat and she never had more than five visitors at one time. That was such a contrast to the grandiloquent parties in Newport in the summer. Her first book was about architecture and interior design.

Major restoration on the house began in 1999. It is a work in progress and will cost 25 million dollars to complete. Boston area families have contributed millions towards the project. Since there have alreay been several frosts in the Berkshires the gardens were not at their best. Much of the interior on the third floor was barren. Yet our guide did a fantastic job of telling the story of Edith Wharton's life and her accomplishments.

We arrived at Chesterwood at closing time and the staff and guide were so welcoming and gracious that we were still given a tour of Daniel Chester French's house and sculpture studio. Afterwards cookies and hot drinks were waiting for our tour group. As we pulled away we had a beautiful sunset that reminded me of a painting of Prout's Neck at West Point by Homer that I had seen a few hours before at the Clark Institute. The tour organizers could not have been more gracious and kind.

2 Comments:

At October 29, 2006, Anonymous gus said...

What was Edith Wharton's background? Was she from the "high society" Newport set, or admitted to their circle because of her artistic ability?

Has anyone read Ethan Fromme, and if so, what is their impression?

 
At October 29, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who were Edith Wharton's contemporaries? Did she lean to the left?

 

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