Sunday, March 6, 2011

Springfield Museums again

Last week I found myself heading to my conservator in Holyoke to pick up a piece, and decided to also pay a quick visit to the Springfield Museums, as I really enjoy them. This time I made it to the Springfield History museum, which turned out to be quite a treat.

Widow Seated with Her Dogs, 1640
attributed to Frans Luycx, Flemish, 1604-1668

For some reason this dour picture captured my attention. Beautifully painted the elderly lady is enshrouded with luxurious black satins, with two adorable dogs beside her, one of which reaches up to sniff her hand. This is a great portrait painting, which manages to be both intimidating and somehow sympathetic. At first formidable in appearance upon a closer look, the lady is seemingly almost approachable. The dogs betray her humanity.

Detail of the Portrait of a Widow

While not pretty, and pretty scary still, I think I detect the hint of a smile on her lips. Maybe she is not so mean really.

The real treat this trip though, because the last times I have gone I have not gone into it, was the History part of the museums. I had no idea that Springfield was such a major center of industry, the made cars, motorcycles, guns, Friendly's started there, the list goes on. Below are a few highlights of the automobile portion.

1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom I
made in Springfield MA

This beautiful Rolls Royce was one of the few made in this country, when Rolls Royce, recognizing the market in the US, located their production in Springfield MA. The depression finished it off, they last just about a decade making cars there. This Phantom belonged to a local businessman who was a major patron of the museums, M. Allen Swift. He owned the car for 77 years, the longest of any owner in Rolls-Royce's history, and took care of it himself, it reportedly still runs like new.

1928 Pierce Arrow, Brougham 81 Opera

This beautiful car is another star of the museum, purchased in Springfield in 1928. The label states that it is one of Americas most original cars with only 2763 miles on its odometer. That is very cool, this car never needed to be restored, since it has so little wear, and was always maintained.

The Springfield Museums are definitely worth a visit, there is a lot there to see, across a range of fields. You can expect more posts on it from me!

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