Museum Day: Rockwell Museum and the Clark Institute

We were excited to discover two excellent museums located not far from our campsite. Alps Family Campground is only about 10 miles from the western Massachusetts border, which is ideal for visiting these museums, both of which are located in western Massachusetts. The first destination was the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. The second was the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. Our trip took us through the region known as the Berkshires, a tourist area known for its music, art, and recreation. The mountain scenery, dotted with patches of wild flowers, was gorgeous. We passed through picturesque small town after picturesque small town. It was a great day.

The beautiful Berkshires of western Massachusetts.

Field of white flowers.

Berkshire scenery.

Cindy in her hat before yellow flowers.

The Normal Rockwell Museum contains the world’s largest collection of original Norman Rockwell art. It is located in tiny Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where Rockwell lived for the last 25 years of his life. His last art studio is also on the property and open for a visit. Although Rockwell did not consider what he did “fine art,” I would disagree. His paintings are so iconic of American culture and the American way of life. We loved the museum!

Cindy before the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA

Standing before many of the covers of the Saturday Evening Post by Rockwell.

“The Runaway”, which was the cover for the Saturday Evening Post on September 20, 1958 (a week before I was born).

“The Gossips”. When this graced the cover of Saturday Evening Post in 1948, the magazine was flooded with enquiries wanting to know what they were gossiping about. It includes faces of Rockwell’s friends as well as Norman himself. You’ll find he placed himself in many of his paintings.

“Boy Making Football Tackle,” from SEP’s cover in 1925.

“Boy and Girl Gazing at Moon” (aka, Puppy Love), a 1926 SEP cover.

“New Kids in the Neighborhood”, 1967. This work portrays the integration of a Chicago neighborhood in 1967. We know the kids will soon be playing together, but the face peering from the window of the neighbor’s house makes us question how well the adults will fare.

Rockwell’s studio (now moved to a new location on the grounds of the museum) with a gorgeous view of the Berkshires.

Interior of Rockwell’s studio

The Clark Art Institute is located in the far northwestern corner of Massachusetts, in a college town called, Williamstown (home to, you guessed it, Williams College). The Clark is home to an excellent collection of European and American paintings, and sculpture from the fourteenth to the early twentieth century. Robert Sterling Clark, and his wife, Francine amassed an impressive collection of art, funded in large part by a fortune inherited from his grandfather, who hit it big with the Singer Sewing Machine company. The plan was to donate their art to the Met in New York City, but with the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war, he did not feel that his art would be safe in the big city (a likely nuclear target). So, he chose Williamstown, an out of the way place far removed from the bright lights of the Big Apple. The collection has an impressive group of Renoirs, as well as other impressionist works. There were also two beautiful works by William Bouguereau, one of my favorite 19th century artists. We were so glad to have discovered this gem of a museum less than 30 miles from our RV park.

The Clark.

“Dismounted: The Fourth Troppers Moving the Led Horses.” Frederic Remington. From the Clark: “The horses in Remington’s painting thunder towards us, kicking up clouds of dust. Chaos seems imminent, but this military maneuver is well practiced. In every group of troopers, three dismount to pursue the battle while the fourth leads the riderless steeds to safety. Each animal is distinctly different, but the mustachioed troopers look alike, all seemingly based on the same model. Despite its realistic detail, this picture is a work of historical fiction rather than a record of an actual battle on the western frontier.”

Winslow Homer. From the Clark website: “In 1883, Homer witnessed an event near Atlantic City, New Jersey, that allegedly inspired this dramatic painting. Rescuers try to haul ashore two women, weighed down by their waterlogged bathing dresses, in danger of being pulled beneath the waves by an undertow. The figures appear as three-dimensional and solid as the ancient Greek marble statues on which they were modeled. Yet despite their muscularity and apparent strength, their struggle suggests human frailty in the face of the sea’s awesome power.”

Renoir, “Blonde Bather,” 1881.

Another Renoir, “Woman Crocheting,” 1875

And yet another of a number of Renoirs, “Onions,” 1881. It’s about time someone painted a still life with onions. Enough with apples, pears and grapes!

John Singer Sargent, “Madam Escudier,” 1883

William- Adolfe Bouguereau, The dramatic “Nymphs and Satyr,” 1873

Bouguereau, “Seated Nude”

Cindy Carey at the Clark, Priceless

Thomas Gainsborough: The gorgeous “Elizabeth and Thomas Linley.”

Degas, “Dancers in the Classroom,” 1880.

Degas, “The Little Fourteen Year-Old Dancer.”

Alfred Stevens, “Memories and Regrets,” 1874. I was unfamiliar with Stevens, but very impressed with the several works by him in the Clark.

Jacob van Ruisdael, Dutch artist, “Landscape with Bridge, Cattle, and Figures”

Camille Pissarro, “Piette’s House at Montfoucault,” 1874

Photographing Cindy photographing “The Sailboat,” by Gustave Courbet

A masterpiece. And, oh, by the way, two Monet’s.

4 thoughts on “Museum Day: Rockwell Museum and the Clark Institute

  1. I hadn’t heard of the Clark or William Bouguereau, although I’ve come across his work before. I like the classic mythical subjects.

    • I didn’t know of the Clark. Bouguereau has been a favorite of mine for awhile. I love his classical style when everyone else was turning from classicism. He was, apparently, one of the most well-respected artists of his time, but has since fallen in esteem.

  2. Have to chuckle ….. I doubt many folks under 30 even know what the Saturday Evening Post was – or who painted so many covers ….
    A few item in my ‘keep safe’ boxes are indeed classic Saturday Evening Posts.
    Enjoyed seeing the Rockwell Museum.

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