Quick Reference

Time Period:
Midwinter of 1943.

Southwick Studio, north window.

Oil on Canvas



27 X 30

Boston Art Club, 1943
Guild of Boston Artist, 1944

Emma P. Coombs
Who presented it to
to Rev. William Cole



Painting has RSW's beloved horse Trigger in it.

Related Links

Featured Artwork: Beginning to Snow

RSW's Diary Comments

"Midwinter of 1943. My barns and sheds, and Gould's barn, done from my studio window. The bronze horse weather vane of the big barn, showing "Trigger" my black horse in his yellow blanket, standing by the bars of the barnyard. Also, the bird feed box showing on the end of the garage as the first slow snow flakes of a beginning storm in the air. Sold Sept. 1944 to Emma P. Coombs of Southbridge, Mass., who presented it to Rev. William Cole."

Comments on the back of a sepia print:

"See colored reproduction for fairly accurate color notes. Please note that (although nearly square) this is an upright canvas. $500."

Additional Notes

Mrs. Williams feeding Trigger
A photograph of the scene taken by RSW
friend F. Earl Williams. That is Mrs. Williams feeding
Trigger with the Gould barn in the distance.

It is unclear to us whether this painting is a commission paid by Mrs. Coombs. The painting did exhibit in May of 1943 at the Guild of Boston Artists show. It is likely that when Mrs. Coombs came in contact with RSW he either sent her a number of choices to consider at her home in Southbridge or she came to the studio.

Needing a similar painting for an upcoming exhibition at the Grand Central Art Gallery (G.C.A.G.) in New York City and with the permission of Miss Coombs and Rev. Cole Woodward made another version of this painting he named, Snow in the Air . Snow in the Air being the more celebrated of the two paintings, in that, is featured in the 1946 October issue of American Artist Magazine's article on Woodward by Ernest W. Watson and also in the catalogue of the 25th Anniversary Exhibition for the G.C.A.G. in 1947. However, in both cases Snow in the Air is mistakenly cited as being Beginning to Snow.

The letter below was attached to the painting. We do not know who Mrs. Coombs was addressing.

The note from Miss Coombs regarding this painting.
The note from Miss Coombs regarding
this painting. SEE TEXT BELOW
The Envelope
The Envelope

August 21, 1944

Lovely Lady:

Can you send me, if possible without the Shepherds' knowing, the address of the talented artist he visited this summer? The man sits in a wheel-chair and paints wonderful pictures of the farm and its surroundings.

Thank you very much. I love you, and wish it had been possible to be with you often - but there just has to be more of the story in some later edition - because I can never really let you go out of my heart.

With all best wishes for you and yours always,

Emma P. Coombs

As a footnote, Woodward had cousins with the "Coombs" name but we do not believe there is a familial connection to Miss Coombs. For all intents and purposes drawn from the material available to us, Ms. Coombs was a stranger to Woodward.

Speaking with the owner of this painting we learned that Rev. Cole was the pastor of the Ashfield's (MA) St. John's Episcopal, the church Woodward, raised Episcopalian, apparently attended. Visit their website HERE

Beginning to Snow
Beginning to Snow
Snow in the Air
Snow in the Air

As Woodward said, he made Snow in the Air from photos of Beginning to Snow, as well as, use of the north window and the two a nearLy identical. However, side-by-side shows that Snow in the Air has a pink-ish hue speckling the image. This may merely be the process of converting the image of the painting to print for the magazine because that is the only picture we have of Snow in the Air. Through producing the annual calendar we have experienced this issue ourselves. The conversion is a tricky business. We see this with other paintings appearing in print... that the color is just a bit off or different.