Almost a century earlier, artists in the Berkshires had been inspired by nature rather than by the small-town society that Rockwell documented. In his 1856 short story, "The Piazza," Melville described the view in summer from his porch at Arrowhead as one that, throughout the season, attracted landscape painters. "[The] country round about was such a picture, that in berry time no boy climbs hill or crosses vale without coming upon easels planted in every nook, and sun-burnt painters painting there," he wrote. Many of these artists were local residents, a number of them amateurs. They would not for a moment have imagined themselves as better subjects for their canvases than Mount Greylock or Monument Mountain.
Writer Jonathan Kandell, who lives in New York City, reports frequently on culture and history. Photographer Michael Christopher Brown is based in Brooklyn, New York.