To the editors,
Winthrop Murray Crane III was my godfather, and he took the relationship in a very serious manner. I first remember getting a handwritten letter from Anzio Beach, Italy, where he was an enlisted soldier while my father was a West Point graduate officer. On both of their returns from World War II, he was allowed to take me for an afternoon trip to expose me to a cultural world that my parents were unable to with six children and a big farm to run and had little interest in pursuing.
Most often we would spend two hours at the Berkshire Museum. These were gentle, peaceful visits. At age 9, for me, it was so special. He would tell me about his ancestors and how they bought and donated great art for all people to visit in a calm setting of beauty — in the Crane room — a beautiful space with a fountain to hear and fresh flowers to smell, amazing visuals, even seating that was comfortable — often it would be just the two of us, all alone.
My favorite, and I think, his was the Bierstadt Redwoods, with ethereal light, huge trees and nature seen in God-like worship. Sitting for 15 or 20 minutes and just looking and dreaming together was my introduction to the art world. His tenderness and his letting me see for myself, not his projected thoughts, was so opening for me and has stayed with me for my whole life. One person, a godfather with a child having a life-changing experience, given with such love — "be generous and love this artistic ability in humans for thousands of years."
I got to visit the museum often, but it was the Bierstadt that changed my life — and his love and time spent with me made me feel that I was special. All my four children and my 15 grandchildren are museum-goers.
Save the art.