"Painted in 1930. One of my most traveled and exhibited pictures. Painted of the Stowe farm, on Adamsville-North Heath Road the spring I lived in Purinton House, Colrain. Shown in leading exhibitions and invited by Mr. Harshe, to Chicago World's Fair exhibition. Illustrated in "Art News" as having had more wanderings than "Ulysses!" Bought from Macbeth Gallery by Mr. Bartlett Arkell and placed in his Canajoharie (N.Y.) Art Museum. A few years later this painting was copied almost "verbatim" in water color by the noted artist John Whorf, and illustrated in the N.Y. Herald Tribune --as Whorf's. I had considerable trouble over this with John Whorf and the Ferargil Galleries, N.Y.
(Editor's note: RSW was mistaken as the problem with John Whorf was actually with the Milch Galleries, not Ferargil.)
Comments in a notebook by RSW: "Sold Dec. 1933--$450--33 1/3 com= $300"
"Nothing has ever been painted with any more of loving care than Country Piazza by Robert Strong Woodward. That is a winter scene par excellence
"Hot Weather Hint: Country Piazza painted by Robert Strong Woodward of Shelburne Falls, Mass. and shown at the World’s Fair. Something delightful to contemplate when the day is hot."
"Country Piazza, a painting by Robert Strong Woodward of Shelburne Falls, on exhibition at the Century of Progress Fair, Chicago."
"Woodward's Country Piazza ...has just been sold to the Canajoharie Art Museum for its permanent collection.
"Undoubtedly, the paintings are well arranged and there are a few high spots in the group. Robert Strong Woodward can always be relied upon to approach his subject in a forceful, straightforward fashion. In Country Piazza he has admirably caught the spirit of a small New Hampshire farm with piles of drifted and shoveled snow about the house, gaily feathered turkeys in the road and bunches of golden corn cobs suspended from the piazza roof. Anyone who has ever stayed at the Moody farm in Jackson will recognize 'Uncle Al' as the seated figure in the rocker. Geraniums in tins brighten the windows and the brilliance of sun and sky are reflected in the white clapboards of the house itself.
"His best work is a canvas previously seen in other exhibitions. It is called Country Piazza, and represents the side porch of a farm-house in the Victorian manner of 'ginger-bread' decorations, deeply banked with snow drifts. The painting, while conceding nothing to its companions in its reportorial function wears a softer mien.
"Another canvas, called simply Country Piazza, is a close-up picture, apparently, of the same house, for it gives the snuggest impression of comfort, although the piazzas are almost eclipsed by the snowdrifts. The painting has no affectations, but is measured strictly to the themes.
"Country Piazza selected from the Corcoran Museum Show, in March, for reproduction in The Arts Magazine, is a genre picture of a house-corner and a lean-to shed. One member of the household is drowsing upon a settee. The milk pails are overturned upon their pegs, and three turkeys have ventured forth upon the melting snow. Even as Robert Burns lifted the genre songs of Scotland into the realm of poetry, so Mr. Woodward has given significance to a subject as plebeian as a snow-isolated farmhouse but as significant as the lives of those hardy wrestlers with the seasons who give sustenance to the world."
By Royal Cortissoz [excerpt]
".....When John Whorf made his debut in New York a few years ago, at the Milch Gallery, he left for a young practitioner, an almost startling impression. He seemed to have taken over Sargent's accent in the use of water color to be uncannily skillful and confident. His nude figures are drawn against sylvan backgrounds reflected an amazingly matured technique. Subsequently the
Sargent note faded away and he appeared to be in full possession of a style of his own. Today, coming forward again at the Milch Gallery, he achieves even more decisively effects pointing to individualized ability. If he has looked at the water colors of Winslow Homer the process has not obscured his purely personal gift. That gift is for the unhesitating and exact registration of the thing seen. There is nothing in the smallest degree photographic about his art, it is simply that he sees the truth and sets it down in unmistakable terms. Moreover, he sees the truth beautifully, so that he can take a prosaic subject like the snow- beleaguered house in the "Winter Morning" and make a charming picture out of it. This transmuted veracity of his is wreaked upon diverse themes, upon fishermen in their dories, upon sportsmen in their canoes, upon wildfowl rising into the air, upon simple landscape, and the thing depicted is always mad interesting. But I confess that what I have come back to again and again in this exhibition is just Mr. Whorf's expertness in the handling of his medium, the excellence of his draughtsmanship, the luminosity enlivening his color and the deftness with which he attains his purpose. It is a pleasure to observe the operations of so competent a workman."
There was considerable correspondence between Robert Strong Woodward and Whorf about the similarity of the Whorf water color to to his own Country Piazza.
Mr. Whorf apparently was known to copy other artist's work. To learn of another instance please read this transciption of a 2005 Boston Globe article.