Harold Weston, Sunrise from Marcy (detail), 1922. Oil on canvas, 16 x 22 in. Private Collection. © Harold Weston Foundation. Photography by Andy Duback.

Shelburne Museum Features “the Thoreau of the Adirondacks” this Spring and Summer

(Shelburne, Vermont) Harold Weston: Freedom in the Wilds will be on view at Shelburne Museum from March 23 through August 25, 2019. Dubbed “the Thoreau of the Adirondacks” by art historian and critic Helen Appleton Read (1887-1974), American modernist painter and social activist Harold Weston (1894-1972) was lauded during his lifetime by modernist artists, critics, and patrons. Drawing from extensive collections of the artist’s estate (the Harold Weston Foundation) as well as select public institutions and private lenders, this is the first museum exhibition to illuminate the links between the artist’s distinctive and lyrical written words with his prodigious body of work.

Taking inspiration from Weston’s art as well as his philosophical views on nature, Harold Weston: Freedom in the Wilds presents the artist’s early Adirondack views (1920-1923) and selections from the Stone Series (1968-1972) alongside sketchbooks, diaries, letters, and related ephemera that make a case for the connections between the human spirit, nature, and Weston’s art.

Writing in the preface to his book Freedom in the Wilds: An Artist in the Adirondacks (third edition 2008), Weston commented, “I have been a devotee of the dews of the wilderness since childhood, and do not pretend to be without strong prejudices on its behalf.” While Weston balanced art-making with a drive to advocate for humanitarian causes across the globe, it was his love of and close relationship with the Adirondack wilderness that defined much of his work.

Hailing from Merion, Pennsylvania, Harold Weston summered in the high peaks of New York’s Adirondack region with his family as a boy. The region spoke to the young idealist, a sensitive artist with philosophical leanings. In 1920, Weston decided to make the mountains his year-round home, and with the assistance of a local carpenter built a one-room cabin in St. Huberts, New York.

It was here that the artist refined his approach to painting, rejecting much of what he had learned in formal art classes and instead favoring an expressive, creative process that emphasized first-hand observations and emotional responses to his surroundings. Inspired by the wilderness, Weston recalled, “I did a lot of wandering in the woods, up streams and climbing mountains, always with my sketch box. I painted a great many small oil sketches on cardboard on the spot. A semi pantheism permeated my reactions: the tree, cloud, mountain – life and the eternal seen through the incandescence of the moment.

Harold Weston: Freedom in the Wilds opens at Shelburne Museum in the Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education on March 23 and runs to August 25, 2019 (22 weeks).

What: Harold Weston: Freedom in the Wilds

When: March 23 – August 25, 2019

Where: Shelburne Museum, Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education (Colgate Gallery)

More information: Contact media@shelburnemuseum.org.


Founded in 1947 by sugar heiress and pioneering folk art collector Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888–1960), Shelburne Museum is the largest art and history museum in northern New England and Vermont’s foremost public resource for visual art and material culture. The museum is now open year-round, with the Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education and Webb Gallery featuring important American paintings by Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Grandma Moses, John Singleton Copley, and many more. For more information, please visit shelburnemuseum.org.

Shelburne Museum

6000 Shelburne Road or PO Box 10

Shelburne, VT 05482