Over the Labor Day weekend son Chris and his partner Michelle visited us. They gamboled on the lawn with their French bulldog Bibi, sat on the piazza with drinks – and we all drove to Williamstown and the great Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and its wonderful exhibit about Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) relationship to, and admiration of Edgar Degas (1834-1917). The exhibit was really fabulous. It was amazing to think that these two artists who seem so different in time, and in style, did in fact overlap, and that Picasso was such an admirer that a number of his paintings are a creative echo of some of Degas’ works.
In another gallery there was a small exhibit of John Constable (1776-1837) landscapes, like the one above, which was NOT on display. I like Constable because he worked from nature and depicted life of ordinary country people of his time. As a reader of English novels from Jane Austen on, I have my own fantasy views of the landscapes and the life that people lived in those rural areas. My views of that life, however romantic they might be, is partly what makes my life here in Heath a joy. Others may wonder how we survive on our hill which strikes so many people as isolated and rugged, but to me it is beautiful, and a place where I can concentrate on the essentials of a happy life – a loving husband, good children and grandchildren, charming and helpful neighbors and friends, a good library with good books, good food – and every other good thing. Another Englishman had it exactly right, “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings,” said Robert Louis Stevenson. And so say I.