Byrdcliffe in Snow, ca. 1910
Oil on canvas
Byrdcliffe was an artists' colony founded in Woodstock, NY, in 1902-1903
by Jane and Ralph Whitehead (both were inspired by Ruskin and Morris and
funded the entire colony), Hervey White (a writer, poet, musician who
came from Hull House in Chicago) and Bolton Brown (a painter from upstate
New York who went to Syracuse University and taught at Cornell University
before establishing the art department at Stanford University).
is surrounded by the Catskill Mountains. It provided the rustic landscape
meant to inspire and elevate this art community. Artists, writers, musicians,
social reformers, and intellectuals came from across the country to stay
at Byrdcliffe and gain inspiration from the setting and people with shared
failed to fulfill its goals of a self-sufficient arts community. It became
too expensive and Whitehead’s dominating personality became a confining
force. Byrdcliffe survived for almost 30 years under Whitehead’s
vision until his death in 1929.
the management and restoration efforts of the Woodstock Guild, Byrdcliffe
continues as a place for artists to gain inspiration, live, and work.
was founded with a threefold mission:
- To produce
beautiful handmade objects that when sold would finance the colony.
- To offer
classes in all the crafts so that the colony’s success would go
forward for future generations.
- To lead
a healthful life on a working farm that would help support the inhabitants
and provide the best of beauty and simplicity of lifestyle.
Byrdcliffe apart as an artists' colony?
lived there, some year-round
of being self-sufficient
children of those who lived there
classes in the summer - both a school and artists’ retreat
not have a humanitarian mission of social reform
writing, and music all expressed at Byrdcliffe
to live out the aesthetic philosophies of the Arts and Crafts movement
artistic expression at Byrdcliffe
- fewer than one hundred pieces were made
Arts - painting, printmaking and drawing – Byrdcliffe was different
from other artists' colonies because it included fine arts as a "central
part of its identity."
– hand-built and molded pots, no use of potters wheel