WellesleyWeston Magazine


Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Page 173 of 195

excursions "an unparalleled learning opportunity" Portland Museum of Art, The Winslow Homer Studio moment more to spot the Homer studio, a brown-shingled carriage house. In the near distance, the sea continues its relentless assault. I step out of the car and into a blast of cold, wind-driven fog. Homer spent his final years here, sleeping in a monk's cell of a room no bigger than a closet. In his waking hours he cared for his elderly father, painted, and fought the personal demons he carried with him throughout his adult life. A faint scrawl In the course of showing me around the studio, restoration specialist Geoffrey Goba points to Homer's faint pencil scrawl, still visible a cen- tury after the artist's death, on a span of wallboard: "Oh what a friend chance can be when it chooses," it reads. Here's my theory: Having borne witness to the monumental vio- lence of Civil War battlefields as an illustrator for Harper's Weekly Magazine, he spent the rest of his days searching for redemption from the trauma through his painting. From his studio, might not the curl of an ocean wave or a momentary ray of sunlight contain redemption? The answer, at least judging by my visit to the Portland Museum later that evening, is yes. Homer's Taking An Observation and Weather-beaten open the door into his inner life. Surely it is in such personal expressions that the measure of the man—brave, resolute, and endlessly origina— can be found. Elsewhere in the Portland's collections Homer's influ- ences, including such great observers of American land- and seascapes as Codman, Richards, and Bierstadt are to be found. But none exhibits such force of will and brave spirit as that morose loner whose private window on eternity I have been so privileged to peer through. A week prior to my visit to Prout's Neck, Winslow Homer floated back into my sights for the first time in years as I navigated the galleries of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Among the many New England museums I have visited of late, the Clark stands out for the breadth and strength of its collections. Heavily weighted toward the Renaissance and American and French Impressionism in particular, it reflects the taste of an enormously wealthy New York couple whose era spanned the first half of the 20th century. Homer and a fair number of other American painters, includ- ing members of the Hudson River School, are represented in the Clark's collections, which are of world-class quality. Connoisseurship The museum's present-day mission has enhanced the Clark's impecca- ble sense of connoisseurship by creating an unparalleled learning opportunity for museum visitors, many of who come from nearby Williams and Bennington colleges. A neatly integrated combination of listening devices, touch pads, and image-driven computers makes the Clark a learning experience of the first order. Like many New England museums, the Clark is currently undergo- Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute 172 WellesleyWeston Magazine | summer 2012 COUR TESY POR TLAND MUSEUM OF ART PHO TO COURTESY OF STERLING AND FRANCINE CLARK AR T INSTITUTE

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