Saturday, October 10, 2009

New England in the Fall

Shaker Mill, earlier this summer
Few destinations can match the range of historic towns that New England has to offer: not just Boston but also Salem, inextricably linked to the witchcraft hysteria of the 1690s, and Stockbridge, scene of an early social experiment in "Englishing" the Native Americans.

Concord is doubly famed, both as the site of the second engagement of the Revolution, when embattled farmers “fired the shot heard around the world”, and as the home of the celebrated literary flowering of the first half of the 19th century.
The Mount, home of Edith Wharton

Indeed, a panoply of literary and artistic figures has made this corner of North America their home: Nathaniel Hawthorne (author of
The Scarlet Letter), Edith Wharton (the first woman of American letters) and Robert Frost (America’s unofficial poet laureate) all lived in New England, and it was here that the continent’s most engrossing novel, Moby Dick, was penned.

On a recent research trip to New England for Culturissima I also familiarised myself with two painters dear to American hearts, Norman Rockwell and Grandma Moses, along with one of the country's most beloved sculptors, Daniel Chester French.

The cultural delights of New England stretch far beyond the shores of America; we also visited three art collections of international repute: the Clark Art Institute, so unexpected a discovery amongst the remote hills of New England, houses a striking collection of Renoir, Monet and Degas, not to mention a captivating selection of Winslow Homer. The chefs d'oeuvre in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts range from Italian and Dutch Old Masters to van Gogh, Matisse and Picasso, whilst the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum displays work by Titian and Botticelli, Whistler and Sargent.

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