Quick Reference

Time Period:
Painted 1931 or "32

West Hawley, MA

Oil on Canvas



25 X 30

Mt. Holyoke Coll. Dwight Hall, 1931
Springfield Museum of Fine Art, '31
Grand Central Galleries (NY),'31,'32
Amherst Coll. Jones Library, 1932
Valleyhead Sanitarium, 1932
Deerfield Academy, 1935
Southern Vermont AA, 1935
St. Paul's School, Concord, NH, '35
Winchester AL, 1937
Vose Galleries (Boston), 1941, '42
Westfield Athenaeum, 1941
1st Nat. Bank of Greenfield (MA), '42
Home of Mr. & Mrs. Roger Smith, '44

Miss Esther Garbose



"A canvas I have loved myself and admired more than any other I ever made." RSW

Related Links

Featured Artwork: Portrait of a Shadow

Portrait of a Shadow

RSW's Diary Comments

Portrait of a Shadow Sepia Print
Portrait of a Shadow Sepia Print

"Painted 1931 or '32. A canvas I have loved myself and admired more than any other I ever made. Very much exhibited and praised canvas but for some strange reason one that has never sold up to this writing (1942). Painted from the lower field of the Stetson farm in West Hawley, of the back of the little farm house just below the Stetson place. Sold Nov. 1943, to Miss Esther Garbose of Gardner, Mass."

Editor's NOTE:

This painting was purchased from the 1944 Mr. & Mrs. Roger Smith Exhibition. A private exhibition of remarkable painting arranged by F. Earl Williams. Go to the bottom of this page for more...

Additional Notes

The original name of this canvas was The Little Farmhouse.

This house has since burned. The painting was subsequently given by Miss Garbose to her niece in California. This old house was originally the town farm for the town of Hawley run by a Mr. Allen. The following is a letter written to a next door neighbor of this house, Mrs. Vera Stetson. It has been preserved by her daughter.

We believe this little farm may be the same as the one portrayed in an unnamed and unsigned painting located in 2017, Unnamed: Enduring Farm. It is difficult to be sure because RSW painted it from the opposite side and direction.

The image (above) of this painting was discovered in a collection of KodaChome slides taken by Mr. F. Earl Williams himself and given to the Smithsonian Institute under his name as part of RSW's collection. There two other paintings found in the collection, Portrait of a Shadow. and the unnamed and unsigned Unnamed: The Awaiting Maple.

Williams was an amateur photographer, high school principal and very close RSW friend. Williams had taken a great number of pictures during their years as friends and Williams could possibly be the only one who could get away with taking pictures of RSW. We invite you to read more about Williams and visit the gallery page devoted to his photographs.

Stetson Letter
Vera Stetson Letter Re: Portrait of a Shadow

Transcription of the Letter:

Shelburne Falls, Mass.
April 8th 1931

Dear Vera Stetson__
just after I sent you the photograph last month, of the painting I made last fall of the little farmhouse just below you __ the enclosed article came out in one of the Boston papers __ the globe. Had I known it was to appear I would've waited and sent it with the photograph in one package. I have some extra copies, so thinking you may like to read what the papers say of my pictures I'm enclosing a couple of copies in this letter. One of them will use some time give to the man who lives in the little house with the blue door __ the man who swears so at his cows when he gets them in at night! It may interest him to see his farmhouse pictured in the paper, it may not __ I don't know! Oh if you don't want to hand it to him, perhaps your father will do it for me __ soon I hope the roads will clear up __ so I can motor up to your hill to paint.

Robert Strong Woodward


The 1944 Mr. & Mrs. Roger Smith Exhibition:

April Sun and Frost on the Window hanging
Portrait of a Shadow and A Mountain Farm hanging
in the home of Roger Smith for a private exhibition

To the right: is a photograph of Portrait of a Shadow, along with From a Mountain Farm hanging on the wall for a private exhibition in the home of Mr. & Mrs. Roger Smith of Gardner, MA, December, 1944. The picture was taken by Woodward friend, educator, and amateur photographer F. Earl Williams. Williams was once the principal of Gardner High School and so we believe he had something to do with arranging this rare exhibition of Woodward's paintings in a private residence. The three missing photographs are New England Impressions*, Winter Farms, and From the North Window*. The paintings photographed are as follows in pairs: Portrait of a Shadow and From a Mountain Farm*, April Sun and Frost on the Window, A Winter Song* and The Big Chimney*, there is the chalk drawing The Road Home, the oil A Winter Afternoon and other chalk Mountain Meadow together and then Tranquility, and The Little Red Barn* as singles.

And what an exhibition! Worthy of any New York or Boston Gallery, it featured a number of Woodward's most exhibited editorial paintings going back as far as 1935. [noted by an asterisk*] Two of the paintings hanging at the exhibit, A Winter Song and New England Impression previously hung at the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco and the 1939 New York World's Fair respectively.