Robert Strong Woodward returned to Shelburne Falls in 1910 at the age of 25 and moved into a small shed-apartment-studio on the farm of his uncle. In about 1915 he began painting in oils and his early paintings were made from out the rear window of this little studio which he named Redgate. His early paintings were usually very large (40 x 50) and were made of the large trees and small stream visible out the window of his studio.
After making several of these paintings he took them over to Colrain to show to the senior oil painter then living in the area, Gardner Symons. Mr. Symons worked in a small studio close to the North River Bridge. The studio was painted yellow at the time and is still painted yellow. A recent photograph of the house is shown to the right.
Mr. Symons was very impressed with the work of this new young artist and encouraged him to send one of his paintings to the New York City National Academy of Design spring exhibitions. RSW sent the painting Between Setting Sun and Rising Moon
. It was here in 1919 that RSW won his first professional recognition.
RSW wrote the following in his painting diary about Between Setting Sun and Rising Moon
"1918 -1919. The first 40 x 50 I ever made. Urged to do it by Gardner Symons and sent to Spring National Academy Exhibition (N. Y.) where it was awarded the first Hallgarten prize ($300). My first prize, my first prominent public notice! Mr. Hallgarten, himself, bought the painting from the exhibition for $500, a tremendous sum to me at the time. I had been painting in oils only for two years!"
A copy of the brochure cover for the exhibition
Title page of the 94th annual exhibition
List of Julius Hallgarten Prizes. RSW won for 1919.
Names and addresses of the artists in the 1919 exhibition. We have
no eplanation for RSW having an NYC address at his time.
Listing of all of the paintings hung in the Vanderbilt Gallery in 1919.
The above scan copies are from one of three of the brochures left in the files of the National Academy of Design since 1919. It was purchased for $45 from the National Academy Museum through the courtesy of Laura Zelasnic, Archivist.
It is now kept in the RSW studio.