Letter: Crane gifts to museum would be painful loss

Posted
To the editor:

I am saddened by the potential loss of Berkshire County's cultural assets, those being the gifts Zenas Crane made during his lifetime to his Berkshire Museum. Often overlooked in the press are those gifts associated with former Massachusetts governor and senator Winthrop Murray Crane, subject to being deaccessioned for cash. Governor (1900-1903) and senator (1904-1913), Winthrop Murray Crane and his family also donated works that are among the 40 to be sold, acquired over the last century as his heirs wanted to honor their direct ancestors and the mission of the Berkshire Museum. A native son of Dalton, both businessman and statesman, Winthrop Murray Crane is equally revered as part of this area's proud heritage.

Sen. Crane's wife, Josephine Boardman Crane, and daughter, Louise Crane, gave art treasures either directly or through their nonprofit foundations. Louise Crane had no descendants.

Works include: William-Adolph Bouguereau's "La Bourrique/The Horseback Ride;" Girolamo Troppa's "Apollo and Satyr;" Thomas Wilmer Dewing's "Two Ladies in a Drawing Room/The White Dress;" George Henry Durrie's "Hunter in Winter Wood;" Adriaen Isenbrandt's "Adam and Eve/The Temptation;" Augustus Saint-Gaudens' "Diana of the Tower; " Henry Moore's "Three Seated Figures;" Edward Vuillard's "Deux femmes dans un interieur;" and Edwin Lord Weeks' "Indian Prince, Palace of Agra."

The Josephine and Louise Crane Foundation, now located in Falmouth., has assets of over $70 million and gave $500,000 during the 2007 Berkshire Museum Capital Campaign. Attempts to reach out to the Winthrop Murray Crane ancestors regarding their feeling towards the Berkshire Museum's intended renovation plans and deaccessioned artworks have gone unanswered.

As an aside, I thank Josephine Boardman Crane for also establishing the Junior Naturalist Program at the Berkshire Museum, which was an important part of my childhood learning experiences growing up in Pittsfield during the 1970s with Woody Bousquet and Thom Smith. My experiences, enhanced by visits to the Berkshire Museum as well as later hiking excursions through the hills of the Catskills and Berkshires with Woody, compelled me to study art history in college at Tufts University. Memories of the paintings by Hudson River School artists' depictions of our beloved mountain ranges remain clear.

Science, nature, history and art interconnected through paintings — treasures "once" known at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield.

David Peter Moser,

Panama City, Fla.


The author is a former resident of Pittsfield.


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