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Mountains in Summer

In the summer of 1932 Robert Strong Woodward was driven by his hired man, Fabian Stone, up to Whitingham, Vermont, in his Nash Advanced Six touring car with all his painting essentials loaded into the rear seat. Fabian drove him around the town until he found a scene which satisfied him from the upper site of old Whitingham Village. Here Fabian lifted RSW into the rear seat and set him up to paint. After spending nearly the entire day working on the large 30 x 36 canvas of the vista before him, he returned to the Hiram Woodward studio in Buckland to put on finishing touches. When completed he had it photographed by Bert Ashworth, as was usual, and named it Mountains in Vermont.

But a problem arose. He was not satisfied with either the sky of this painting or its name. The sky in the original painting, with which he was dissatisfied, is shown in the first sepia photograph. This print was discovered at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art in Washington, DC, along with a second sepia print showing the sky repainted, and the addition of several cloud shadows on the mountains below. RSW had this revised painting photographed again and renamed as Mountains in Summer. The photographer was instructed to destroy the negative of the first print, an instruction he clearly disregarded. But RSW was still dissatisfied. There was apparently too much sky in the painting, so he had Fabian cut the large 30 x 36 painting down to a 27 x 30. Only then was it offered it up for sale.

"I wish you would destroy this film. It is the one with larger cloud in the corner and the long narrow slanting cloud in the middle. It's the same canvas as this other print enclosed (which film of course save) with the sky painted over differently, and hill shadows added. In other words destroy this "B" film but save the "A" film. This latter is entitled Mountains In Summer"

RSW comments on the sepia print (see below)

Mountains In Vermont Original
Mountains In Vermont as originally painted
Mountains In Vermont Modified
Same painting modified and re-titled Mountains in Summer

Mountains In Summer final version
Mountains In Summer final version
In the three photographic images above, note first, the sky as originally painted; second, the repainted sky; and third, the painting as cut down to 27 x 30. The final result was a handsome painting which was purchased many years later in 1952 by Mrs. Theodore Crowyn of Bernardston, to be hung in the Turners Falls Carnegie Library in memory of her sister, Edith Barber, a librarian there for 25 years. Mountains In Summer, a true Woodward masterpiece, may be seen today by visiting the Carnegie Library in Turners Falls, Massachusetts.