Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Oh how I love the Berkshire "summer homes".  I love the idea that someone could afford such a thing and I like them so much more than the Newport RI homes, they are less ostentatious plus many of them actually became year round homes.  I made it to Naumkeag before it closes for the season which it does right after Columbus Day.   This will be another post short on text with a lot of photos.  There is a lot of information about Joseph Choate all over the web worth the effort of reading up on him.  He seemed to be one of the good rich guys.  Seeing the summer home, hearing about the Choates made me wonder how on earth he ever had any spare time to spend there, the man was crazy busy plus they were tremendous supporters of the arts which always warms my heart!  Mr. Choate was an attorney in NYC and the first to introduce the concept of arbitration, he was also Ambassador to the UK, and a representative at the Hague...amazing amount of work.  I learned from the tour guide that most of these cottages were places where one's family could relax during the summer while the men continued their hard work.  Eventually he did retire there and thoroughly enjoyed any time he got to spend at the cottage.

Here are photos, some with captions for your enjoyment.
Inside the Moon Gate Garden

I noticed people are leaving pennies and dimes so I added some too.

The stone "cushions" were surprisingly comfy at least for a short sit down.

In the Moon Gate Garden there are a number of  stone stele, they've clearly become part of the whole landscape with mosses and lichen growing on them.  Quite beautiful. 

The Moon Gate with lots of Fall crocuses.

The Rose Garden

Ah, the view!

I was crazy for this bush and learned it's Western Sumac aka The Devil's Walking Stick.

It was a working farm when the Choates owned it and it still is today.  I learned the Choates would grow their food (veggies and such) there and take it back to their NYC home.  

The Afternoon Garden with Gondola Poles.  Yep I could spend my afternoons there!

These stone seats are also pretty comfy.

The Dining Room with tulip pottery from Holland from his time at the Hague.

Mrs. Choate by none other than John Singer Sargent.

This is the first Waterford Crystal chandelier I ever saw...so pretty!

Baronial!  A good place to sip some brandy...

I loved the wall paper in this room!  It's embossed and hand painted.

There are a number of beautiful embroderies in Mrs. Choates room.

...and this curious Morano glass lamp that looks just like a badminton bird!

Her perfume bottle collection

...and she had her hat boxes smashed flat and framed.  The big surprise for me is that I didn't know they were painted.  I thought hat boxes were just plain.

The visitors bedroom with sitting area...I would definitely like to stay there!

I think they call these Chinese Water Stones...

The Linden Path

Oh how I love Delphiniums and plan to have a whole garden full.

Beautiful and brilliant irrigation system!

There's some pretty fancy cedar shingle work all over the house.   Well worth noticing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Finally had a chance to visit Chesterwood, the Berkshire home and studio of Daniel Chester French.  I learned so much and it's a gorgeous place!  True confession time....I used to go to the Isabella Stewart Gardner home (I think of it as her home more than as a museum) every New Years Day to wander & pray to her that I could have an art patron like her...we (I) need serious art patrons!  I also would treat myself to a super fancy lunch there in the spirit of dining with her while thinking of all the greats that actually did get to dine with her - Anders Zorn, the incomparable John Singer Sargent.  So on my visit to Chesterwood it became my new annual pilgrimage to pray to him for patronage or just about any kind of help.  The grounds are lovely, a nice mix of wild and garden, he clearly had a reverence for nature - something I admire in him as much as his work.

It's mind bending to think about all the work he produced.  Sculpture is no easy thing.  The visit to his studio only made me want to know more about him and how he worked.   I loved that he had railroad tracks made so that he could roll a sculpture out of his studio into natural light to study it further.  As I looked around it popped to mind that he is America's Bernini.

As an artist I'm deeply interested in other artists studios and process. At Chesterwood I took a ton of pictures and here they are...enjoy!

Nice surprise to see this as I walked the paths.  Someone was clearly seized by the urge to create.

I went crazy for all the hand studies!

The study for the Lincoln Memorial, quite possibly the most beautiful, majestic sculpture ever.

The view from his studio!

Honestly, who could ever resist a walk under a flower covered arbor!