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Window Paintings


1910 Woodward sketch of a Window
1910 Woodward sketch of a Window
To the right is Robert Strong Woodward's first known attempt at drawing a window. It is an illustration in a letter he wrote to a dear friend, probably in 1910, while he was a student in Boston. In the letter, he describes the window and his room as follows:
"The jar rests as the one bit of refined beauty in my barren student's room - no, I have a pink primrose in a pot on the broad white windowsill with above it an ebony and silver crucifix. This window looks out upon the shrubbery of a most lovely little court yard, shut from the street by a quaint old-fashioned and high iron grating with double gates."

1910 letter from Robert Strong Woodward


First Studio: Redgate

Redgate Studio
Robert Strong Woodward outside Redgate Studio
Robert Strong Woodward was paralyzed from the low chest area down from a revolver accident at the age of 20. After a long recovery period in California he returned to his home town, Buckland, Massachusetts, to live at the home of his uncle, Bert Wells. Bert ran a farm on the road between Buckland and Ashfield at approximately the place where the Mohawk Trail Regional School is now located.

Robert converted an outbuilding on the farm into a small studio that he named Redgate. Here he lived alone and started producing illuminations and bookplates to earn enough money to support himself. After a few years he took up oil painting and made large paintings out of the windows of his little studio. It was one of these paintings, Between Setting Sun and Rising Moon, which first won him recognition as a painter.

"....Robert Strong Woodward of Buckland, unable to get out and search for beautiful subjects, has found one from his own window and treated it in such a successful way that it has secured the Hallgarten prize of $300, and in addition it has the distinction of having been purchased by Mr. Hallgarten. This picture, entitled Between Setting Sun and Rising Moon, is said to be unusually beautiful in color. With the mellow light of the hour suggested by the name shining through the trees there is given the impression of a strong foreground with the glory of the afterglow pervading the whole picture. If this is Mr. Woodward's first canvas exhibited at the National Academy of Design, New York City, he is to be congratulated upon his unusual success. Visitors to the exhibition next year will surely be looking for the work of this artist."

Greenfield Gazette and Courier, March, 1919


These first paintings were of the woods outside the windows of his studio and were made of the large trees and the stream he could see from these windows. They did not include the frame, sill or glass panes of the window, and thus appear to be done from the outside. One example of these paintings, of which we have a color image, is shown below:


Redgate Studio burned to the ground from a fire started by an overheated woodstove a few days before Christmas in 1922. Most of the paintings stored in the studio were lost in the fire.

Second Studio: Hiram Woodward Place

Hiram Woodward Studio
Hiram Woodward Studio
After the Redgate studio burned, RSW built a second studio less than half a mile up the road toward Ashfield. Due to his confinement to a wheelchair, and the season being winter, it is not surprising that the first painting out of the Hiram Woodward Studio was a landscape view out his studio window named Winter. At this time, the newspaper clipping to the right is all we have available. Similar to the paintings made from Redgate, it did not contain in the foreground any of the window panes as did the later more famous window paintings. These early paintings can not truly be called window paintings, but are included here for historical reference as to the evolution of this unique style.

The first typical Woodward window painting was made from this second studio in 1925 titled My Winter Shelf . A similar painting was made of this scene titled The Window. Still Life and a Winter Scene. There is a provenance essay on these two paintings here.

The next window painting made in his second studio was titled Studio Window. This was reproduced as a magazine cover for Country Life In America in 1928. A photograph of the magazine cover is shown on the right.

The only other window painting, to our knowledge, made in this studio was really painted outside the studio and titled Under The Summer Window.

Hiram Woodward Studio after fire
Hiram Woodward Studio after fire
In 1934, a lightning strike burned this studio to the ground along with numerous paintings. It is unknown if other window paintings were destroyed in this fire. At this point in his career, RSW had not started keeping an accurate diary of his paintings.


Third Studio: The Little Shop Studio

The Little Shop Studio
The Little Shop Studio
Interior photograph of the Little Shop
Interior photo of the Little Shop
In 1931, prior to the disasterous fire at the Hiram Woodward home and studio, RSW purchased a small building known as Boehmer's Mill. He called the building The Little Shop and set it up to use as a studio.

To our knowledge, there was only one window painting made in this studio. It was called The Book Corner. We are very thankful that the current owner of this wonderful painting contacted us recently and supplied the photograph below.



Fourth Studio: The Southwick Home and Studio

The Southwick Home and Studio
The Southwick Home and Studio
In 1934, after the fire at the Hiram Woodward place, RSW purchased a large property in Buckland Center. It had a separate house and barn and also a former blacksmith shop. The old shop was perfect as a studio with six sets of windows. Each not only provided much natural light, but also provided wonderful subjects for his window paintings.

It was here that RSW perfected his technique not only for landscape oil paintings but for his so-called "Window Paintings." These were relatively easy for him to paint because, being confined to a wheelchair, he could work entirely inside the studio. He painted out of almost all of the windows in his blacksmith shop studio. These paintings were much sought after, especially for professional offices which had no windows. They gave these offices the feeling that you were looking out a window.

Below are current photographs of the windows in this studio followed by a list of the titles of known window paintings he made.



The Southwick Studio North Window
1940 era photograph of the North Window
The Southwick Studio North Window
Photograph of the Southwick North Window in 2010


The Southwick Studio East Window
2006 Photo of the Little East Window
The Southwick Studio East Window
Photograph of the Little East Window in 2010


The Southwick Studio Balcony Door
2006 photo of the Studio Balcony Door
The Southwick Studio Balcony Door
Photo of the Balcony Door in 2010


The Southwick Studio Corner Desk Windows
Photograph of the Corner Desk Windows in 2006
The Southwick Studio Corner Desk Windows
Photograph of the Corner Desk Windows in 2010


The Southwick Studio South Windows
Photograph of the South Windows in 2006
The Southwick Studio South Windows
Photograph of the South Windows in 2010


Diary comment about the west window
Diary comment about the west window: ... after lunch. Then settled into
drawing in charcoal a new 25x30 window canvas, sitting by the clock table
and drawing the two windows by the garage door, red lantern on the
shelf - sugar house outside. Took most of the afternoon. ....
There is one window in the studio which, as far as we know, was never painted. This is the NorthWest window that looks out toward the street and a small sugar house beyond. The sugar house has long since fallen down and only the rock ledges remain. On February, 12, 1949, RSW made the following comment in one of the Woodward Diaries stating that he was beginning a painting out of this window toward the sugar house across the street. It would have been a beauty but apparently it was never finished. There is no record of it in all of the remaining painting diaries and a painting of this window has never been found.

The West Window
Photograph of the West Windows - the two
windows that RSW intended to paint.
Note red lantern from diary.
Busy Sugaring
Busy Sugaring - A painting of the sugar house across
the street made looking out his bedroom window


Photograph of the Heath Pasture Studio
Photograph of the Heath Pasture Studio

A photo of the beech tree looking back up toward the pasture studio.
Photo of beech tree and the Heath pasture studio.

Robert Strong Woodward worked in one other studio which he built on the top of a mountain in a Heath, Massachusetts. It was in the middle of a blueberry pasture with a magnificent vista of rolling hills and a beautifully windswept beech tree.

Many paintings of the beech tree were made through the large picture window in the front of this pasture studio. Please click on The Beech Tree for a provenance essay on these paintings and to view their images.

There is two known window painting made from the Heath Pasture. The first is from the building's rear window and is named Frost On The Window. It features a glass oil lamp known as the Mae West lamp for shape of its curves.

A second window painting was recently found and it is likely one of the last paintings made before the pasture house burned 1950. It is a view out the large front window of the Heath studio looking towards the beech tree. It is a beautiful painting, but unfortunately was never finished. It is interesting to see the stages in the creation of a painting. One corner shows bare canvas with a charcoal sketch of the window panes. Other sections show a blurry background coloring. The finished sections on the left show full detail.


RSW had one window painting commissioned by Mr. Bartlett Arkell, owner of the Beechnut Company. It was painted in his summer home in Manchester, Vermont looking out over the Manchester golf course through his picture window. It hung in his New York home for many years reminding hiim of his country home in Vermont. After his death it came up for auction at the Caldwell Gallery in Manlius NY.

We hope you have enjoyed browsing through these images of the Robert Strong Woodward window paintings. These rarely come up for sale or auction because they are considered by most owners to be heirlooms.

We have tried to maintain the Woodward studio as close as possible to the condition it was when he died in 1957. Only one Woodward window painting remains in his estate.

February 2011