Quick Reference

Time Period:
Fall of 1945.

Back of Shelburne Tower Mountain

Chalk Drawing


Landscapes & Views

22 x 29





RSW made an oil painting from this drawing titled, A Clear September Day.

Related Links

Featured Artwork: When Autumn Comes

RSW's Diary Comments

A closer look at the details of the roadside.

From A Clear September Day:

"A painting made from a chalk drawing of the same composition and subject, owned by Mr. Ralph Tognarelli. Tangled group of birch trees filled in right half of the canvas, green mowing beyond, over which bands of pasture land, topped by a nearby mountain (back of Shelburne Tower Mountain) all with a brilliant green blue Sept. sky, (almost no clouds) with the most arresting part of the canvas a foreground bank of fall weeds and asters (very colorful) with just the edge of the road showing in the very lower left corner of the canvas. Sold March 19, 1948, to Mr. Gordon Woodward, 14 Elm St. Hatfield, Mass. Painted in 1945."

Additional Notes

Patten District, Shelburne, MA
Patten District, Shelburne, MA

Recolllection: Passed through the family of Gordon Woodward, then President of Smith College, his purchase of A Clear September Day:

The family of original buyer, Gordon Woodward, related the following story their grandfather told them describing his meeting Robert Strong Woodward at the Southwick studio. Gordon Woodward felt that RSW was apprehensive, cold, and alluded to them both having the same surname. Given the period of time (following the Great Depression and start of WWII), one can imagine what RSW was thinking when getting a surprise visit from a stranger with the same last name. It wasn't until Gordon Woodward told RSW that he wanted to buy a painting, that RSW let his guard down. The relatives remember that the painting hung over their grandfather's fireplace in Hatfield.

This chalk drawing has a twin oil painting named, A Clear September Day. Although we know RSW often made the chalk in the field and then painted the oil in the studio. This is the only pair for which we have images of both. [See Below]

Side by side comparison.
Here is a side x side comparison of the oil painting (left) and the chalk drawing When Autumn Comes (right)

The paintings are so alike, if not for the dusting of loose chalk in the sky of When Autumn Comes it is nearly impossible to tell the difference from photographs side by side. The aspect ration also differs because the board RSW used for his chalks were 22" x 29" versus his canvases which were "25" x 30". Below, for illustration purposes, we laid the oil over top of the chalk at 50% opacity with a black drop shadow around the oil. Using the "V" of the double birch trees to the right as our alignment you can see how the two paintings differ.

An overlay illustration of A Clear September Day on top of When Autumn Comes
An overlay illustration of A Clear September Day on top of When Autumn Comes

Then biggest difference is found in the varying aspect ratios. The tree to the right, the peak of the distant mountain, and the tree to the left running off the page are stretched in the chalk and squeezed in the oil. But note how the forground of brush varies very little.

Massemet Tower Full
Massemet Tower Close up

Although neither piece of artwork clearly shows it, Massemet Mountain's peak has a fire observation tower and overlook. From it's top you can see all of Shelburne, as well as, the main street area known as Shelburne Falls.

For more on the tower, see our Scrapbook story on Nelson "Spence" Woodward, who manned the tower for 26 years after serving in the civil war and is RSW's uncle.