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Oral history interview with Lee Winslow Court, 1982 January 27-April 13

Court, Lee Winslow, 1903-1992

Painter

Overview

Collection Information

Size: 4 sound cassettes.

Transcript: 65 pages

Format: Originally recorded on 4 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 6 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 9 min.

Summary: An interview with Lee Winslow Court conducted 1982 January 27-April 13, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art.
Court speaks of his education at the Massachusetts School of Art; painting in Rockport, Massachusetts; working as a designer for department stores; his involvement with art associations in Boston; his other work.

Biographical/Historical Note

Lee Winslow Court (1903-1992) was a painter from West Townsend, Vermont.

Provenance

These interviews are part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.

Funding

Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

Transcript

Preface

The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with Lee Winslow Court on January 27, 1982 & April 13, 1983. The interview took place in West Townshend, Vermont, and was conducted by Robert Brown for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

The Archives of American Art has reviewed the transcript and has made corrections and emendations. This transcript has been lightly edited for readability by the Archives of American Art. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.

Interview

ROBERT BROWN:  —Robert Brown, the interviewer, in West Townshend, Vermont, January 27, 1982. Well, perhaps you could talk a bit about your childhood, to begin with, and particularly think of things in childhood—family influences, sisters or brothers—which may have influenced you to go into a career in art.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, I think both my parents were very sympathetic and interested in my interest in art. I go back to, if it's possible to remember when you were four or five years old, going up to visit my grandmother in Chelmsford, Mass. I was quite content to go out in front of their place, where there was a large pine grove, and build little, imaginary villages out of pine—out of twigs that had fallen out of the trees. I could occupy myself all day long in doing things of that kind, and I would call—

[Audio Break.]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Let me just think a minute. So there's no question about what—this was my artistic direction, showing, somewhat, even at that tender age. I recall, also, when I got to first grade in school, rather than writing anything or bothering to learn how to do your ABCs, my desire was to illustrate them. [00:01:59] I think it's—I look back on it now, and I think it's rather unfortunate that the teachers were swamped by this desire, and permitted me to draw things out instead of doing them the way the rest of the class does. I'm sure it was a handicap later on.

ROBERT BROWN:  You mean instead of writing, let's say, or talking, explaining, you were allowed to make drawings to illustrate?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. When it got to the point where you would write—or you would read something and then write a story of your own, I didn't bother to write it. I illustrated it. Well, of course, the teacher thought, ooh, this is unusual, and therefore, shall we say, I got away with it. They should not have permitted this. This has bothered me all along. I think it's one of the reasons that I have said, and still do, that when a person gets up to the point of going to art school, if that's their direction, I'm not so sure, but four years at MIT, before you go to art school, would be pretty good background, because you never know when you need that other information.

ROBERT BROWN:  You mean technical information?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, technical, but all the varied things that one would get, whether they went to MIT or to Hanover or where. I think a better general education, advanced general education, before you specialized in art, because there is quite a long time to—hopefully there is a long time to do that specializing.

ROBERT BROWN:  Your early childhood was in Somerville? And then—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, I don't remember—

ROBERT BROWN:  —before you moved to Winchester.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —Somerville. That was, that was—an infant, but I think probably it was shortly after that that we went to Winchester. For that part of my life that I remember, and up through high school, I lived in Winchester. [00:04:04]

ROBERT BROWN:  What was Winchester like?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  It hasn't changed a great deal, with the exception that much of the farmland is now built up. I think it's still, it's still Winchester. There is still the east side, and there's the west side.

ROBERT BROWN:  What did that mean? One was considered much better than the other?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, yes, of course. This was, of course, back in the days when there were only two types of people: the Irish Catholics and the dirty Protestants. You were either one or the other, and you were no good no matter which one you were. You know, the Protestants thought the Catholics were awful, and the Catholics thought that the Protestants were awful. And so you separated it with the railroad tracks that went through the center of town. This was imaginary more than actuality, but it was evident, with kids and school, that there was this feeling of a tug-of-war.

ROBERT BROWN:  Were you generally quite happy there as a child, as a young man?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Very, very happy.

ROBERT BROWN:  There were several artists lived there in that near suburb of Boston.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah, H. Dudley Murphy.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you happen to get to know any of them as a child?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. When I was a youngster, H. Dudley Murphy's mother lived up the street from us, and I used to run errands for her, plus mow her lawn. Dudley Murphy, of course, came over often to see his mother, and when he learned of my interest in art, he invited me to sit between his legs and watch him paint, which I thought was quite an exciting thing. [00:06:00] And particularly to sit between his legs. I don't remember—I think he stood six-foot-seven or eight, and long-legged, and great, big hands. His hands were so big that he had to have cigars made for him so that they were in proper proportion to the size of his hand.

ROBERT BROWN:  He really took a lot of care with appearances, did he?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. He was just very, very nice to me. He was nice to me right through his life. I saw a good deal of him while I was at art school, after art school, and so on. He was something of a mentor.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you ever paint with him when you were—before you went to art school?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I wouldn't say paint. I might have done some experimenting with him. When I would go up to his place and I'd have a question about something, and he would explain or demonstrate, and then I would go out and try my thing, and then get a critique from him, but this was pretty embryonic. But he was thoughtful. He didn't—I didn't get the brush-off, which so often happens. A very friendly fellow. If you want to just talk about him a little bit, when I got through—well, I guess it was just before I finished art school—he invited me to come over and manage a small picture show at the Boston Art Club, which he was very interested in, which I did. It was there that I sold my first small picture in Boston. It was quite a thrill, but on the other hand, a very humiliating experience, in that, one day, the gallery had a half a dozen Beacon Hill dowagers carrying their bronzes in one hand, and an umbrella in the other. [00:08:13] They were carefully walking around the gallery, when in came a chap tapping his cane on the floor, and he summoned me and wanted me to explain about every painting. There were some 350 of these little eight-by-ten sketches. Explain who painted them, who they were, how old they were, where they lived. This was something of a chore. As I did this, he would hesitate at a painting and make a note. Finally, after making the rounds of the gallery, he went over to the piano, and looked at this grand piano, and he put his cane up on it, and proceeded to look things over. Finally, he took the cane and he tapped the piano with it to summons me to his side. He said, "I'm interested in several of these paintings. Tell me again about number 10." Well, that happened to be me, and how do you talk about yourself? I've always felt this was the most difficult thing in the world to do. Well, I told him, trying to be the third person in it. Then he asked about two or three others. Finally, he made a decision. He bought my painting. When he was writing the check for it, he again summoned me to the piano, and he said, "Young man, I bought this, and I don't have any idea where I'm going to hang it." Then he said, "Ah, I know. I'll hang it in my bathroom, where I can sit and look at it." [00:10:02] Well, of course, the others didn't know that it was my painting, but I did, and if there had been a crack in the floor a sixteenth of an inch wide-I'd had slithered through it.

ROBERT BROWN:  Sure.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, I later learned that this chap was Henniker-Heaton, who was the director of the Worcester Museum.

ROBERT BROWN:  Rather formidable character.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. And he was very colorful.

ROBERT BROWN:  And it was through Murphy that you were given this job of managing the show?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  Were you, in high school in Winchester, given much instruction in art? Was there very much offered?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Uh, I don't—I'm—I don't have any memory of it. I'm sure there was an art teacher, but I was doing things on my own. While in high school, I was doing paintings. I think when I was a junior in high school, or somewhere along there, I had an exhibition of things that I had done in Winchester—I think it was principally in Winchester. Plus, my father had said to me, I think when I was a sophomore in high school, that if I would learn how to letter, that I would never need for pin money. And so, thinking that my dad was probably right, I did learn how to letter. By the time I was ready to go to art school, I had put away a goodly amount of money through doing signs for all the stores in town, and then I got to doing the signs for the movie theaters. Not in Winchester, because they wouldn't permit a movie theater in Winchester, but in Stoneham and in Arlington. [00:12:04] Then I had a sign business where I did signs for the buses. I noticed that they had signs in the trolley cars in Boston, in the subway trains, but you get into a bus and there wasn't anything, so I sold the bus company the idea that they ought to pay me to entertain their riders by doing these signs. Then I went out and convinced the pharmacists, and the hardware store, and the various people that they should have these signs done. As I recall, it cost 75 cents for a black-and-white, and $1.50 for one in color. The bus company was paying me on my left hand, and the advertiser was paying me on the right hand, and this was a very lucrative lesson in the advertising business.

ROBERT BROWN:  And this was all while you were still in high school?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  So you were a pretty enterprising youth. Quite confident.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I tried to be. I tried to be. Of course, that—doing those things helped me when I went to art school. I wanted to go down and study, with Aldro T. Hibbard, summers in Rockport. I didn't—I wasn't able to stay around weekends and enjoy the fun, because I had these contracts with the movie theaters to come back and do these big posters, these big signs that they had over the entrances. I would come back on a Friday, and work Friday night and Saturday and Sunday, and then go back to Rockport on a Monday to be ready for Hibbard's class on Monday.

ROBERT BROWN:  Why did you—when it came time to leave—to go to art school, you were certain you wanted to go to art school? [00:14:04]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, no question about it.

ROBERT BROWN:  And your parents agreed to that? They didn't—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, no question—yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was your father a businessman? Was he interested in—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  My father was a writer. He—interestingly, when he was younger, he studied with—hmm. Um, my father, when he was a young man, studied with Vesper George, and—

ROBERT BROWN:  Studied—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  And I think that that was—

ROBERT BROWN:  —design?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, and I think that was up in Lowell. Uh, I'm quite sure it was up in Lowell. Then, of course, when I went to art school, I had Vesper George. My father did quite a little drawing. I think, somewhere, I've got little books of notes that he—cartoons, drawings, illustrations, various notes that he made. And he was quite good, but he was—his interest was more in the theater than it was in the arts, as it was with me.

ROBERT BROWN:  And so he made his living as a writer, chiefly?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Not entirely as a writer. He was a writer and a promoter. For example, D.W. Griffith was—he was D.W. Griffith's public relations director, as he was with a lot of the early, big companies. He—Lee and J.J. Shubert thought very highly of him, and he managed a lot of their productions.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was he on the road quite a bit, or was—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. Quite a lot.

ROBERT BROWN:  So you were mainly with your mother?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was your mother quite sympathetic to your art interests?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. [00:16:02]

ROBERT BROWN:  Was she also involved somehow in the arts?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No, mother—no. She was, I guess, at that point, the time that I remember, she was interested in her family of six kids. But she was very sympathetic to my desires. I'm sure she was helpful, as helpful as she could be in it, and in counseling me, and giving me direction. Reminding me that you're judged by the company you keep, and such things as that. That looks are only skin-deep.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was she the primary teacher of ethics, would you say?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Indeed she was. Well, because she was there 100 percent of the time.  An interesting aside on this. My grandfather, Charles Nichols, who lived in Chelmsford—when my father decided that he wanted to marry my mother, and he asked Grandpa Nichols for her hand, apparently Grandpa Nichols said, "Yes, if you will write the genealogy of the Nichols family." Now, that's a new one. You never heard anybody say that. So my father did the research, and did the entire history, back pre-Mayflower, on the family. [00:18:04] When that was completed, he then could have the hand [laughs] of Charlie Nichols's daughter.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was Nichols something of a genealogist, or an antiquarian?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No. No, it was just—it was a very fine lineage. Is that what you'd call it? This sort of thing has never interested me a great deal, but—

ROBERT BROWN:  —but it did him.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  But it did him. However, I learned this summer of something that I had never heard before. There was a young lady that was curator of the little museum on Monhegan Island who came up to the house, and she said, "I noticed that your middle name is Winslow. Do you know where the Winslow came from?" I said, "Yes, Governor Edward Winslow." She went to pieces over this. I couldn't understand why. Then she went on to tell me what a wonderful individual Governor Edward Winslow was, much of which I had not heard. It was in the genealogy, but I don't sit and read that thing very often. I may have read it once or twice. Well, she got so enthused about this that she then sent me a couple of books on the Winslows, and I began to think that I was far more important than I actually was after reading what Governor Edward Winslow and his brothers went through as early settlers here. So it takes all types, doesn't it?

ROBERT BROWN:  [Laughs.] At the time, you were—why did you decide to go to the Massachusetts Normal Art School, as it was then called? The state art college.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, that was pretty clear-cut. The best instructors, in the opinion of everyone that I talked with, were at Mass Art. [00:20:06]

ROBERT BROWN:  Oh, really? Not the Museum School—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, there was—no.

ROBERT BROWN:  The Museum School had Tarbell at that time.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah, but that was—but—

ROBERT BROWN:  Hale.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah, but they—I don't know why the difference. Yes, those that were at the Museum School were great, but you had Cyrus Dallin, if you were interested in sculpture. You had Wilbur Dean Hamilton. You had, um—you had a great number of very fine teachers at the Massachusetts School of Art. Ernest Lee Major. Probably there wasn't—there wasn't a better teacher than Major.

ROBERT BROWN:  He taught painting, did he?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  You went there with the idea of becoming a freelance artist?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No, I went there with the idea of becoming a landscape painter. That is what I wanted, and I knew that in the beginning.

ROBERT BROWN:  But on your own, to be a freelance painter?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. At the time, while I was there—I guess probably it was in my senior year—I was trying to figure out how I could put enough money together to get to Brittany. I figured if I could get to Brittany and paint for one year in Brittany, that when I came back, that, unquestionably—this is a youth talking—that I would come back as the greatest landscape painter in America. Well, thank God I didn't get to Brittany right away. It took many years before I got to Brittany. I would have been terribly deflated, because I'd have come back, and I would have been way down the string. [Laughs.] I still had quite a number of years to go to be any good at all. [00:22:03]

ROBERT BROWN:  Who would have given you this idea that you should go to Brittany?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  My own—well, I haven't—

ROBERT BROWN:  Ernest Lee Major had had some training in France, I believe.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I suppose that, somewhere among your instructors, that this egg was laid. I just don't remember.

ROBERT BROWN:  How did they begin at the Normal Art School? Did you have a fairly set, fixed curriculum?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  You began in the freshman year with what?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, with everything, including English and mathematics. It was very general, everything that you had. As I recall, they didn't believe in specializing until you were up to your junior year. Whether it was Ms. Hathaway on color, or custom design, you had to take all of those things. Then, after your having a taste of it and trying your hand in it, you would find that you would rather be a portrait painter, or a landscape painter, or a muralist, or whatever. I think, theoretically, that that was—having at least two years of general art education, and the last two years specializing, I still feel that that was the right thing to do. I often wonder—I think there was one thing that art school, from my point of view, missed. When you got through art school, you didn't have any more idea what made a dollar but [ph] nothing at all. I suspect that this is still a problem in art schools. [00:24:00] I think, before the kids are let out, that they ought to have some idea how they put a value on their time or their effort, instead of being thrown out into the wild and woolly world, with no idea at all. Now, I had no idea, when I got through art school, that I would be involved with Filene's, for example. I had—of course, I went there just to get that $300 that I needed to get to Brittany, but I found that they don't pay you $300 a week. They only paid $21 a week. By the time you got through with car fares and lunches, you didn't have much left.

ROBERT BROWN:  Well, this was some years after you were out of art school, wasn't it?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Immediately after.

ROBERT BROWN:  Oh, it was?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  But you're saying that they gave you no idea of how you could apply your art training into making a living?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Who, Filene's?

ROBERT BROWN:  No, the art school.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, oh. Oh, the art school?

ROBERT BROWN:  As you were saying earlier.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No, no. No, they didn't.

ROBERT BROWN:  Perhaps, for a moment, I could ask you a bit to characterize your various teachers. What about Ernest Lee Major? What was he like as a person, or did you get to know him a bit?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, I did. He was a very domineering fellow, in that, for example, I remember an exhibition at the Boston Public Library—an illustrator whose name I don't recall, but he was a crackerjack. He was top illustrator. Of course, at that time, 1924, [192]5, the top people were illustrators, as N.C. Wyeth, for example, who—a lot of them, you don't hear much about now, because they're not—and they're not publicized. [00:26:01] But Major warned his class that if any one of us was seen going into this dirty, nasty illustrator's show at the Guild, he would throw us out of his class.

ROBERT BROWN:  It was at the Guild in Boston?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I mean, at the library.

ROBERT BROWN:  Why did he call him a dirty, nasty illustrator?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, he didn't, but this was the—

ROBERT BROWN:  —implication?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —implication, that illustrators were—

ROBERT BROWN:  Well, they'd sold out.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  You shouldn't associate with—yes. When you were studying with him, you were studying fine art, and he did not consider an illustrator a fine artist. I think there are many illustrators that are as good as any—

ROBERT BROWN:  But Major didn't. Major felt—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, no, not at all.

ROBERT BROWN:  And he wanted you people to remain pure as well?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah, and this was a part of his teaching to—he wanted you to think and act and do as he believed was the right way to go to be a good painter. An aside on this, I recall his calling the roll one day, which he did at first to get acquainted with the students. He came to my name, and he said, "Court, Lee Winslow. Hmm. Kind of a pretty name. Where did you get that name, Lee Winslow Court?" I said, "Sir, I was named after Ernest Lee," and he, quick as a wink, was right back and said, "Yes, and a hell of a long time afterward." He had a good sense of humor, but he was—I remember he used to make the girls take their high heels off and paint in their stocking feet, because he thought that was bad influence for them, to be standing in high heels and painting. [00:28:07] Well, this is the way he was, and—

ROBERT BROWN:  He thought they should be more down-to-earth?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  That's right, right down-to-earth—

ROBERT BROWN:  Not bring in their—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —all the way.

ROBERT BROWN:  —fashions.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  That's right. He believed that you started working from the plaster cast, and doing the simple things, and doing the simple forms, and doing them until you could do them as well as possible, and then you advance. No monkey doodle business with—

ROBERT BROWN:  So you began very—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —Major.

ROBERT BROWN:  —deliberately, with the drawing, and then only gradually painting?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you take to these things pretty easily? You had quite a lot of facility, I suppose.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. Well, I enjoyed it, and I think that's 90 percent of it. If you have, if you have the direction of a master, one who has gone through all the elemental processes and can keep you from getting sidetracked, I think it's a good idea to take advantage of that knowledge and thinking.

ROBERT BROWN:  He was your principal teacher, was he?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No, he was one of several. I think Cyrus Dallin was—I had great respect and admiration for Cyrus Dallin, although I didn't have him for very long.

ROBERT BROWN:  What did he teach you?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Sculpture.

ROBERT BROWN:  Would you begin by modeling in clay?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  On armatures?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  That's right. Well, you started with the most elemental forms, in learning how to make forms three-dimensionally, as against painting them. [00:30:00] Then there was a portrait painter—yeah. DeCamp was a teacher. I didn't have him very long, but I was to have more time with DeCamp the following year, and of course cancer took him. Out of respect for the great admiration I had for his ability, I did a book in appreciation to Joseph Rodefer DeCamp.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you? This was published?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. I think there was one incident in this that it might be of interest. I found that the last portrait that he painted was of the president, whose name I don't remember now, of the insurance company in Worcester, the—well, it may come to me. So I, a kid from art school, still wet behind the ears, took the bull by the horns, and I went up to the—went up to Worcester, to the insurance company, and I went into the office, and I told the receptionist that I wanted to see whatever the chap's name was who was president. She said, "What do you want to see him about?" Well, there wasn't any point in explaining it to her, because I wanted—shall we say, I wanted to interview him, since he was the last one that DeCamp painted. There was some bantering back and forth, and I could hear him, down at the end of a hall, answering her on the telephone. [00:32:05] And so while they were talking, I walked down the hall, and brave as a peacock, walked into his office. He grumbled at me, "What do you want?" I identified myself and told him why I was there, and of course, to my right was this life-sized portrait. He was barking like a wild dog at me. I looked at the picture, and looked back at him, and said, "It's just like the nature [ph]," and that kind of quieted him down. He then went on, and we had a very friendly, very homey conversation. By the time I left, he had volunteered to pay for the cuts of some of the reproductions, he volunteered to make a contribution to the printing of the book, and as well, he told me much of the detail of DeCamp's painting of the portrait. He was in great pain. Apparently he had cancer in his midriff, and he would mix paint and then be gripped by pain, unable to get his hand up to put that paint on, and he'd have to wait until that go away, and then onto the canvas with it. This chap said it was really a torturous thing to think that he had the intestinal fortitude to see this thing through when he was in such terrible discomfort. [00:34:00]

ROBERT BROWN:  Now, was your book your own idea, or was someone else—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  —helping you?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  It was one of those emotional things that, you know, I felt so strongly about the man, and wanted so badly to have the advantage of his instruction, that—

ROBERT BROWN:  And you'd only had a bit—only been able before he died—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  You greatly admired him—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  It seemed to me a justifiable thing to do, in respect for who and what he was.

ROBERT BROWN:  What was he like as a teacher? Do you recall?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, I guess probably you'd say he was much like the Tarbell and the rest of the group at the Museum School. He was of that era. I think he was—

ROBERT BROWN:  Do you remember what he was like as a teacher, though?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, how do you explain it?

ROBERT BROWN:  Well, was he forceful? Did he stand back and let you people go ahead? Did he demonstrate a great deal?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I think all the best teachers that I've ever had, I don't think that they were forceful. I think that they made you think by asking you questions, and they would answer questions which—or demonstrate to the minimum. I don't think any of them believed in this fad that's been going around the last 15, 20 years of going out and doing demonstrations for people, which is, in my opinion, saying, art is magic. To hell it is. There's nothing magic about it. It's a lot of hard work. I think most of these teachers that I felt strongly about were—and that's most of them—they had a very soft approach to things. [00:36:03] They—what made a good teacher, I believe, was the fact that they made you think. They didn't do the thinking for you. They raised the questions, and let you sweat out the answers. Incidentally, if you've—have you ever read The Appeal to the Art Spirit, Robert Henri?

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I think there was a great teacher. I never had him, but I knew people that did. But if you read The Appeal to the Art Spirit, I think, I think that's a good example of what I consider a good teacher. Henri would have a class on color, and he would lecture for two or three hours on color, and he would spend a whole week making copious notes on what he was going to discuss with you. Now, there are certain things that he would tell you that you might be very slow at finding, but much of what he said—again, referring to his book—is reminding you of things. Reminding you, and reminding you, and reminding you, and there can't be too much of it. I think most of the teachers that I had were that kind of person.

ROBERT BROWN:  They would underline things, but then you really only came to realization as you began carrying it out yourself?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  That's right. That's right.

ROBERT BROWN:  Hmm. Did the same apply, say, to a Richard Andrews? Did you have some work with him? He was the mural teacher.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. I had less with Richard Andrews. We all called him Dickey Andrews, and he just—he was a peach of a fellow. He and Wilbur Dean Hamilton were two men that, yes, I had some time with them, but not a great deal of it. [00:38:08]

ROBERT BROWN:  What did Hamilton do—what kind of thing did he teach at the school?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  He taught painting. I don't recall whether it was advanced painting. I think it must have been.

ROBERT BROWN:  Well, you had, at the Normal Art School then, two very general years, including some academic courses, English, math, and then only two concentrated years. That really wasn't nearly as long a training as, say, you would get at the Boston Museum School, where I think they went—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah, but I think—

ROBERT BROWN:  —six years, didn't they, of fairly concentrated—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah, but this is where I say—as I look back on it now, again I say, I would go four years to BU or MIT, and then do the specialization. I don't think six years is a bit too much. Of course, in the four years that I had at Normal Art School, don't forget that I had four years' summer training with Aldro Hibbard, and also association with many of his contemporaries.

ROBERT BROWN:  So when you add that in, then you did, in fact, get pretty extensive training over those four years?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I'm still trying to find out.

ROBERT BROWN:  But if you hadn't, you would have had—it would have been fairly slight compared, say, with the time people spent at the Museum School, or at the Pennsylvania Academy?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  My feeling, as I have talked with kids that are going to art school today, I think—I have a feeling that they go and they want to learn how to do A, B, or C. [00:40:00] They learn to do that, and that pleases them. They figure they've got their money's worth. It's all so temporary. They have not had a sufficient background. When I got through with my training at art school, I went to work for Filene's a year after I had been there. I found myself using my sculpture. I was doing murals. Just think of it. I was doing murals that were 75 feet long—no, two times 75—150 feet long, 8 feet high. They paid for the paint, and they paid for the brushes, and paid me, too. Just think of it.

ROBERT BROWN:  Well, we'll get into all that. So you believe this general grounding in all aspects—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, invaluable. Invaluable.

ROBERT BROWN:  Then your summers—your first summer after your freshman year, did you determine you wanted to go on studying that summer? How did that come about that you began—you went to Hibbard that very first summer?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  Had you known of him earlier, or how did you happen to learn of him?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  While I was—I guess probably it was junior year in art school—a group of us—Ralph Scott, Jim Fitzgerald, and two or three others—used to go out to Hibbard's place in Belmont. He had a studio on Belmont Hill, which I was there a couple years ago, and it's all built up. You wouldn't know [laughs] I wouldn't have any idea of where his place was. I could guess, but I might be wrong. Well, we used to go out there and paint, and we would go out there and have jam sessions where we would go out and discuss problems with painting [00:42:05] Then, at the end of the year, we probably had a jug of wine and celebrated the good times and the things that we had learned, and so on.

ROBERT BROWN:  He was very welcoming to you students?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. He enjoyed young people. But at this point, the time we were using his studio, I think he—it was about this time that he had started coming to Vermont, so he was not using the studio in the wintertime. We, of course, were only there for Saturday or Sunday, something like that. It wasn't for any great length of time. But I knew of him, and there were—and of course, we met him. Apparently some of the others had known him previously. But I felt, again, by association, that the man had a lot to offer to me, and I needed a lot of what he knew, and therefore I wanted to go to his summer school, which I did.

ROBERT BROWN:  What do you suppose it was in his work that appealed to you?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  That's a little bit difficult to answer. The early part of it, I think, probably, was his method of teaching, which was not unlike Major's. I think, even up to the point just before Hib died, that he was singing the praises of Ernest Lee Major as one of the great teachers. [00:44:00] I think he felt equally strong about Wilbur Dean Hamilton and so on.

ROBERT BROWN:  So he taught similarly, but—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  —Hibbard had a bigger reputation as a rising young painter, didn't he?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, yes, but he was a painter. Many of the people—Ernest Major painted, but I wouldn't give you two cents for anything that he painted. He was a great teacher.

[END OF TRACK AAA_court82_3218_r.]

ROBERT BROWN:  —so part of the thing was that Hibbard was, obviously, much exhibited then, and very admired as an artist, right?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. Well, he had—he was a very serious, a very dedicated guy, who thought nothing of walking from West Roxbury to the museum to go to classes.

ROBERT BROWN:  When he was a young man, he'd done that?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. He did things the hard way, and knew what it was to struggle. I think too many people today have it too easy, and don't have to think about it, but he didn't half the car fare to do it. He had to walk to get there.

ROBERT BROWN:  So you knew him a little bit before you went to him that first summer in Rockport?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, yes. I knew him a little. I think that's all that could be said. He used to visit with us, and we would have these jam sessions and discussions, and so on. I certainly, even at that point, didn't feel that you ought to take advantage of a friendship. If you wanted to learn something about painting, the thing to do would be to go to his classes, which I did.

ROBERT BROWN:  How did you find Rockport to be? This would be about 1921 or so when you first went there?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  God, it was primitive. You know, Bearskin Neck was just what it says: Bearskin Neck. There were no shops. There were some fishermen's shacks and that sort of thing. It was—I think, physically, the place doesn't look a great deal different. The bank is in the same place, and the church is in the same place, and the swim beach is in the same place. [00:02:03] But they've added, have crammed in, just as many houses as they possibly can, so that there isn't a foot of land to walk on.

ROBERT BROWN:  It was, to some degree, a summer colony, but nothing like it is now, right?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, nothing.

ROBERT BROWN:  It was still a fishing place, and of course quarry and granite place? Things like that.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  That's right. It was, it was a quiet little hamlet, which, in my opinion, has been thoroughly spoiled. But this happens. When the jet-setters move in, that's it. I have had a feeling for some time that a lot of people think that success with their painting is with whom they associate. I mean, if I can say that I'm in the Rockport group, this suddenly makes me better than the—as though I was in the East Cupcake group. This may not be so, but in those early days—and I think Hibbard was one of the first ones. I know he always felt very obligated to Rockport, because Rockport made possible so much of not only his success, but his happiness. He was an enthusiast for baseball, and managed the baseball team there. He had a gallery there, and it probably was the first gallery. But shortly, there was the Harrison Cadys and the others that came in there, and then it was a thriving art community.

ROBERT BROWN:  This continued—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  In 1925, it was—'26—I guess up until 1930, it was a thriving art community of people who were practicing artists. [00:04:13]

ROBERT BROWN:  And you didn't have all the attendant hangers-on and shops and so forth?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No.

ROBERT BROWN:  Where did—would you board around the town, you students, when you came down for the summer?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. I stayed in what's known—what was known—as Finn Alley. Finnish people lived up there. It was out beyond the—well, it's up near the quarry. [Laughs.] My gosh, when I think of the conditions under which we lived and cooked and survived, it's hard to believe that we made it, but we did. Loved every bit of it.

ROBERT BROWN:  How many students would he have in a summer? Just fairly few of you?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I would guess—I never counted them, but I don't—never been asked that question. I would guess that 30, 40, maybe.

ROBERT BROWN:  Oh, really?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  How would he handle so many?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, his method was to have a meeting at the studio and tell them where they were going to work today, and it was your job to get there. He then would appear, after you had had a little time to get started, and he would walk from student to student and ask them some questions. "Is it possible that the sky is as green as that, or as dark as that? [00:06:00] Have you thought much about the color of that water? It looks to me as though you've just got white down there." Asking questions which not made you feel foolish, but made you think, made you analyze. He had the facility of remembering—of course, this was in his bloodstream anyway, but he could remember what he had said when he made the rounds again and came back. If he queried a composition—"Don't you think you better—that you should think a little bit about that? Do you think that having that plunked in[in] like a needle is good? Perhaps you're seeing it as it is. Don't you think that it would be a good idea to"—it's hard to improve on nature, but sometimes, composition-wise, you can move a pile of rocks over, or you can have the wave breaking in a different position. All of this was to make you think.

ROBERT BROWN:  Then after he had gone, you would—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, then, after the morning session, you would then bring these things into the studio, and you'd have a critique on it. He didn't care whether it was your sketch or mine or who. These things were just put up, and he would walk around and discuss them, again, with a minimum of hurt, and a maximum of help. Then you'd go through this process again the next day. [00:08:00] Then, at the end of the week, there would be a critique on the best things of the week. That is, you would bring in those things that you felt were your best efforts. One, two, or three of them. I don't recall whether there was a limit. You would discuss those.

ROBERT BROWN:  He was always quite kindly, was he?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. I think—we used to have art critics that were—I'm trying to think of the chap's name.

ROBERT BROWN:  You don't mean writers?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. Fellow that was with the—Philpott, A.J. Philpott. What a wonderful man. He—I don't—I used to read every single critique of his. He would go to every exhibition, and he would chat about them. I can't recall his ever saying anything bad about anybody. The worst thing he ever said—of course, this may be just because it was me—he referred to my unbending wave. You know, he didn't say, "The goddamn thing hasn't any form to it. It doesn't do anything." [Laughs.] He just, just referred to an unbending wave. You can't have an unbending wave. But he was very gentle, and very helpful, and I think Philpott could have been a good art teacher.

ROBERT BROWN:  And Hibbard was similar in his critique?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you look back—there were 30 or 40 students. Surely some of them were people of fairly small talent, weren't they, who—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  —simply helped to flesh out his living through teaching. [00:10:00] But he was kind with them, too?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  He was equal—everybody was the same. I think the only ones that perhaps he didn't give any time to were these young ladies that were there because he was single, and they were single, and they thought, gee, if I could only get him. He could smell those out as quick as a wink, and—

ROBERT BROWN:  —run for cover?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Run for cover.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was he quite a charming fellow?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, he was, and very popular. He was not only popular in the arts; he was popular in the sports. He was a community leader. He served on endless committees in the town. Well, he felt obligated. Rockport had done well by him, and he thought he ought to do well by it. Wonderful, wonderful man.

ROBERT BROWN:  Now, you also studied in Rockport. Did you study at the same time, or around those same years, in Rockport with others? Or principally with Hibbard?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No, principally with Hibbard, but you might say, where do you draw the line on studying? There were many occasions when Hibbard would have a group of his friends in, who would be other painters, and two or three or four of his students that he had a good feeling toward. Not favorites, but somebody that he had rapport with. These fellows would come in. They'd sit around, and they didn't need beer and wine and liquor of any kind. [00:12:05] They'd sit around and spend two or three hours talking about painting, and manufacturer's paints, and canvases, and brushes, and getting certain effects, and all this sort of thing. These were—these sessions were great. Great. Plus, there were the little good-time visits, where you'd run away from it all. I'm thinking of one where Lester Stevens—he had a place over in—Lance [ph]—the fellow we were talking about here, where did he live?

ROBERT BROWN:  Annisquam?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Annisquam.

ROBERT BROWN:  Two miles away from Rockport, yes.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  [Laughs.] He had a camp over there, and he invited a group of us to come over and have a fish chowder. By gosh, he said, he could make a good fish chowder. So we all gathered, and again, the usual discussions about art. It went into all ramifications of art. It interested me that, never, none of these fellows ever—there was the friendliest attitude about the subject. Nobody was trying to hide anything, whereas I recall, later on, when I was a member of the Salmagundi Club, I got the impression, from talking with the good painters there, that if you got into talking—got to talking about mediums, paints, brushes, canvas, effects, this sort of thing, they clammed up. They didn't want to talk. It was a great secret. But not so with the Rockport group. [00:14:02] There was a complete exchange of everything. Well, on this particular occasion, which I thought was amusing, we had a little chat, and Lester was making his fish chowder, and he was back and forth to the little kitchenette. He had a towel, which was the dirtiest goddamn towel I have ever seen. I think—I don't know whether he'd used it to wash the floor with, or maybe it was to dry dishes and had never been washed. But it was filthy, and he had that over his shoulder. Well, he went into the kitchen to stir the fish chowder, and this towel fell into the fish chowder. And you should have heard the howling that came out of the kitchen, because the chowder was hot, and how does he get the thing out? Finally, he found something to get it out, and he came back in and told us that he had to hold it up in the air and wait for it to cool down so he could wring it out.

ROBERT BROWN:  Back into the chowder? [Laughs.]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I ought to tell you, that didn't, that didn't make the chowder taste—to me, didn't make it taste good at all. I guess probably I had a little of it. My stomach kind of turned over on that one.

ROBERT BROWN:  He was a pretty earthy individual, wasn't he?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, indeed he was. But a damn good painter. Earthy and, I think, over-imbued with egotism.

ROBERT BROWN:  In what ways? What forms did that take?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, any way that he could let you know that he had taken another prize. That—I recall, on one occasion, where he was away, I think out in the western part of the state of Massachusetts, and he couldn't get to the annual meeting. [00:16:08]

ROBERT BROWN:  Of the Art Association?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Of the Art Association. And so he sent a telegram, saying, "Just received 49th award at so-and-so. Sorry I can't be with you tonight." You know.

ROBERT BROWN:  [Laughs.] Just remember, there's a notable who is a member [inaudible].

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. This, of course, this didn't go over big with anybody except Lester.

ROBERT BROWN:  [Laughs.] Hibbard was much humbler?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Very, very much so, yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  So you had four intense summers, then, while you were in art school?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  And you got—particularly with Hibbard, but you were also getting to know some of the other people there?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, yeah. Harrison Cady. I had spent a lot of time with him, and he was, of course, a fellow with tremendous imagination and tremendous ability.

ROBERT BROWN:  What was there in his work that interested you?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I think it was his personality more than his work, although anybody that could see, in the insect world, the wonderful things that he saw, and anyone who could make such a good time out of his imagination, how could you help but admire him?

ROBERT BROWN:  Was he a very likable fellow?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, yes, just delightful. I recall one time, I was in New York at the time, and he was giving a lecture at the Salmagundi Club on corseteering It seemed that he was the only corset collector, authentic corset collector, in America. [00:18:07] There were two in England, and there was one in Spain, but he was the only one in America. He spun a yarn, which lasted for an hour and a half, on his corset-collecting and the pieces that he had. He didn't, of course, have any of it with him, because these things were down in Rockport. But who these were made for, and who made them. He would illustrate the shape that this particular corset was able to give, and—

ROBERT BROWN:  What is a cah-set?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  A corset. It's a form that women wear.

ROBERT BROWN:  Oh, the corset.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Corset. After the thing was over, he was talking with a group of us, and I said, "Harrison, I didn't know that you had this interest." He said, "Well, I didn't either, until they asked me to give this talk." He said, "I told some of the crowd here at Salmagundi this yarn about my being a great—having the greatest collection in America of these corsets. But," he said, "I fabricated it all."

ROBERT BROWN:  Of course. [Laughs.]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  But he told where he—what museums he had given some of his pieces to, and he told this in the most convincing way. Naturally, you'd say, "What in the world is he collecting corsets for? Where would he have this interest?" Oh, he was great. He was great.

ROBERT BROWN:  You, fairly quickly—maybe we should continue with your career for a bit, or if you want to talk, at this point, more about Rockport? When you finished the Normal Art School—which was what, about 1925, something of that sort? [00:20:05]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Mm-hmm, mm-hmm [affirmative].

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you know what you wanted to do?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah, I wanted to be the greatest landscape painter in America.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was there any pressure from home to get a job? Or did they say, okay—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, no. They—no, this was never a problem. I—

ROBERT BROWN:  Did they say, "Go off and paint, then, and see how you can make a living"?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I think probably I was—I made the decisions, and my mother probably shuddered, and my father said, "Well, I wouldn't be surprised but what [ph] he can do it." I don't remember any problem that way. If I wanted something, I knew that I had to go out and work to get it, and I didn't mind working, and I didn't have any trouble having imagination to figure some way of doing it. I think that went on through much of what I did following art school. It was my imagination that advanced my work at Filene's, for example.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you go to them fairly soon after art school?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, yeah. I went—there was—living quite nearby in Winchester was  the chap whose name I can't remember now, who was, at that time, the advertising manager of Filene's. I used to play with his kids, and vice versa. I went over to see him one time, and I told him of my desire. I wanted to get $300 to go to Brittany, and I wondered if there was a place at Filene's. You know, it ought not to be too difficult to make $300. [00:22:00] I had made $300 just at the end of my fourth year by managing old days on Beacon Hill, and doing the program, and—

ROBERT BROWN:  What, for a little—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —my share of the advertising, and so on. Well, he talked with the personnel director, and they decided, yes, they could use me, and so they gave me a job selling Dunhill pipes and umbrellas for Christmastime, the most uninteresting—well, I shouldn't say that. After the first week, it was uninteresting. But at that time, I did illustrations. You know, somebody came through a windy door, and you were showing an umbrella, and the umbrella takes off, and the customer goes floating down the aisle with it, that sort of thing. These, these called the attention of other people to me. I didn't realize it. But after Christmas, I was then invited to continue my association. Of course, I hadn't got my $300. Three weeks had gone by, but I didn't have [$]300—I didn't have anything.

ROBERT BROWN:  You hadn't been paid?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, I'd been paid, but $20 a week. You have to have lunch, and you have to have car fare. So they asked me if I would like to go in the display department, and I said yeah. I didn't care where I went, so long as I could earn some money. So I went in the display department, and I started as a—I guess you'd call it a lumper. I just—I helped carry panels and—chore boy. [00:24:00] Well, after three weeks of that, I said, gee, with my training and my enthusiasm, I ought to be doing something better than this. So I told them that I wanted to do something more interesting. For example, I said I noticed that when you put mannequins in the window, you've got a place on the carpet which—it's bleached around it, and that's where they put the thing, because it was there last time. You always do everything just the way it was done last time. I said, "I think that there's another way of doing things." I convinced them that they ought to have a display designer. The next thing, I had a studio, and I designed the windows, and designed the displays, and so on it went. Then came murals and so on. But this was—all of this was as a result of my training in art school, every single bit of it. Every dollar that I had made has been a result of my training in art school. But things advanced there, only because I felt that there was a better way of doing it, or another way of doing it. An example, without jumping too far ahead, I recall one time that—I think it was Mr. Kirstein, who was one of the owners of the store—said that they wanted to do a promotion on California-made merchandise, but they wanted to do it different from any other store, and did I have any thoughts on the idea? [00:26:10] Well, I thought a little bit, and I realized that the fashions, the California-made fashions, were inspired from the Aztec in Mexico.

ROBERT BROWN:  This was in the '20s or so?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No, this was later than that. Late '30s, maybe. So I said, "The thing to do is to go down to Mexico and research the country for its art, its history, and its culture, and we'll have a show at Filene's. This is what has inspired the merchandise of the California designers." So I went down there and I spent a couple of months, and got decorated by the Mexican government, and shipped back two 70-foot freight cars full of things that had never left the country before. I'm sure that they—I was in villages that no white man had ever been in before.

ROBERT BROWN:  Why were you decorated by the government? Because they were so pleased—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Because this—what a beautiful promotional device this became to them for tourism. Because not only did this go to Filene's, but it happened that it went there, and all the stores in the AMC group felt that this was the greatest thing that ever had happened.

ROBERT BROWN:  What was the AMC group?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Associated Merchandising Corporation, which was—

ROBERT BROWN:  By then, Filene's was part of the—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Bullock's of Los Angeles, and Rich's of Atlanta, and Filene's was one of the group. I remember Lincoln Filene coming down to my office and saying that this was the greatest thing that had ever happened to Filene's. [00:28:03] That his father had always said, "I would like this institution to be as important to the community as the church is." He said, "Court, they have closed schools to send busloads of children into see this," and the publicity was tremendous on it. We just converted the store, and we even had signs in there saying, "English spoken here." But the entire store was devoted to Mexico. This went on. I did several other countries after that.

ROBERT BROWN:  But you were very innovative in that respect?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  But this was no problem to think this up. It was no problem to do it, except I—there was an awful lot of blood, sweat, and tears that went in doing it.

ROBERT BROWN:  Behind that, you'd had some 12, 14 years with Filene's, right?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  And you'd demonstrated that they could safely change and become more conscious of display and promotion?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  That's correct.

ROBERT BROWN:  Had they kind of gone along rather stodgily for a generation or so? Because business was okay, they didn't bother with change?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I think it was lack of imagination. You had—I think the people that were in the key positions were—a merchant was the all-important fellow. The comptroller was an important guy in controlling the purse strings of the company, but they just didn't have anybody that—they'd never hired anybody that—and of course, they didn't hire me for that. I went there to get $300 to go to Brittany, and that was the end of it. But as these situations came up and they said, "How should we handle this?" I loved it, because this period was—at the early part of it, all stores, all first-class stores, had mahogany panels. [00:30:12] Everything was mahogany, highly polished. Well, I happened to be there are the time that—and again, because of my artistic training, they said, "What can we do to revitalize this place?" I said, "Get some color into it."

ROBERT BROWN:  They felt a need to revitalize?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  They thought they were getting a little out of step?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. Nobody else had done anything, but—

ROBERT BROWN:  Was this still in the '20s, where this change occurred?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No, I think this was '30s. I would have to look at notes to see exactly when it was. They decided they wanted color, so I would stay nights. I didn't want to be paid for it. I was doing something that I thought was interesting, and I thought, if this does it, this is great. So I was striping colors in the moldings of these panels. After that had been done and they said, "Ah, that makes this much more vibrant," then I convinced them that we ought to paint the panel itself. You know, a mahogany panel. Oh my God, imagine.

ROBERT BROWN:  Paint right over that good wood.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, paint right over that beautiful wood. But I did it, and of course the next thing you were into store modernization, so I was in at the beginning of that. Because of my color interest, I was—well, we, Filene's, became known as the foremost in store modernization, and I was the color expert, and was loaned to Bullock's, and Wilshire, and a dozen of the stores in the AMC group, because of my color knowledge. [00:32:20] There wasn't anybody else that knew anything about it, so—

ROBERT BROWN:  They had hardly hired people with art training elsewhere, is that right? I suppose—Boston, I imagine, was particularly slow to change, wasn't it?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No, we were the first to do it.

ROBERT BROWN:  You were?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  And of course—

ROBERT BROWN:  In Boston?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —no more did we do it, and then we did—we had done a total floor. I think the fourth floor of Filene's was the first one to be modernized completely. This was color schemes and all. I bet there are 128 different colors used on that one floor. The lighting fixtures were changed, and the whole atmosphere of that floor was changed. Well, F&R Lazarus said, "Gee, you know, this is great." So we were then loaned to—Ed Holmes and myself—loaned to F&R Lazarus, to do their store. Then we went—do one floor at their store.

ROBERT BROWN:  Where were they, F&R Lazarus?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Columbus, Ohio. Then we were loaned to Rich's in Atlanta.

ROBERT BROWN:  Who was Holmes, Ed Holmes?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Ed Holmes. Well, he was an architect. Very capable, very—

ROBERT BROWN:  And he worked with this AMC group, too?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. Well, he was a Filene employee, but we were loaned to these other places. Well, soon after we had done several of these, then there grew an industry of industrial designers, who were a firm of architects who went out and hired somebody that knows something about color, and they hired somebody that knows about fabrics, and they hired various people, so that they now can go to stores and say, "We are the experts in store modernization. [00:34:18] This is the new trend. You should get"—and of course, they sold themselves to—there were a number of these organizations.

ROBERT BROWN:  But when you began, it was in-house?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  We—that's right.

ROBERT BROWN:  You began it within the group of stores themselves?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. And it was so with these promotions, that the stores had never done this sort of thing before.

ROBERT BROWN:  You found—of course, your very success with Filene's found you further and further away from your dream of Brittany and of being a landscape painter on your own.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, because with this, a natural happening. I fell in love. I got married. I had one child. I had a second child. I had a third child—or we did.

ROBERT BROWN:  This all in the '20s?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, no, no, no. This is going—

ROBERT BROWN:  Thirties?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  This is going along in the '30s and into the—and from there on. Well, no, I was married in 1928, and two or three years later—so 1930 was the first child.

ROBERT BROWN:  Were you married to someone with art training?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No. I was married to Elsie Draper, who was—came from a very large family of woolen [ph] people in Canton. But you get married, and you have children, and you have responsibilities, and you want to have, and you want to do, and the next thing, you get involved in the community affairs, and you can chafe at the bit and want to get to Brittany, but you don't quite get there. [00:36:18] The one thing I did get was, in every move that I made from one place to another within Filene's, I insisted that I had to have a month off painting, and probably two months off. Most of the time, that's what I did. I had two months—I had a month in the winter, and then a month in the—in September, which they never found any fault with, although they did give me a difficult time. They said, "How can we make an exception?" I said, "You just—anybody says anything, tell them I took it at my own expense. But I'm not going to." So—

ROBERT BROWN:  Did they find that it really worked better—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, of course.

ROBERT BROWN:  —because you would come back refreshed, with new ideas?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah, and there's nothing like having a happy employee.

ROBERT BROWN:  Who were the management you principally worked with? You mentioned Mr. Kirstein.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, Louie Kirstein, who was really a wonderful, wonderful man. He looked like a bulldog, but he had a heart—he had a heart. Both he and his wife were two of the nicest people I've ever known. Well, I worked, of course, very closely with him, and with Lincoln Filene, with Edward A., with E.J. Frost, who was the financial vice president, Larry Bitner, who was the store manager. Those were the key people that I was involved with. At that time, I think when Nancy, my oldest daughter, was born, Mrs. Kirstein came to me and said, "Lee, I hear that you have a brand-new daughter. [00:38:13] I think that's wonderful. Now, I want to do something for her. Where is your wife, and what hospital is she in?" and so on. Then, "I want to get"—eventually, this is in a meeting a little later—"I want to get a present for her." You know, this is embarrassing. How—you know, one of the owners of the store coming to you and wants to get a present. Well, not having any difficulty with having imagination, I finally said to Mrs. Kirstein that we had talked it over, and we decided that the ideal present would be a perambulator. That's the English for baby carriage, isn't it?

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  A motorized perambulator. The English type. Mrs. Kirstein said, "You will have it." Well, the next thing, I got a telephone call from the buyer of the children's department, and wanted to know what the hell is a motorized perambulator? [Laughs.] She'd never seen one, never heard of one. I said, "Well, you're just not familiar with your market. You'll have to do some exploring." Of course, there wasn't any such thing. This was my imagination. Well, that poor girl, I guess she turned the market upside down, and finally said it was impossible and that there wasn't any such thing, and I said, "Well, you know, there's a motor. [00:40:00] It's made in England. It's a third wheel, and you can put it on a bicycle, and you can let this thing down. It will propel you along." I said, "Why couldn't you put one of those on a baby carriage, and so you're pushing it? Let the motor go put-put-put and take off." Of course, it would go too fast. We had quite a time on that.

ROBERT BROWN:  So you were pulling legs?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I was pulling legs, which I love doing.

ROBERT BROWN:  And Mrs. Filene liked that?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Mrs. Kirstein, yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  Kirstein. She appreciated your—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, I'm not sure she did at first, but we had excellent rapport. She would give me Christmas presents. I remember one that she gave me, Charlie Connick's book on stained glass. She didn't—she wanted to be sure that I never let anybody in the store know that she had given it to me. And it was the same way—they were very careful. Mr. Lincoln Filene used to do things like that, but he would remind me, "Don't ever let anybody in the store know about this," and the same with Kirstein, who gave me many things. "Just don't say anything to anybody."

ROBERT BROWN:  You did, then, happily—you got time off to paint. You had your first one-man show in 1927, pretty quickly. Where was that? It was in Boston, but—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  It was in Boston. It was up in—I've even forgotten the name of the square. Where's 510 Boylston? That's up near what square? Kenmore, isn't it? This was in a building that has since been torn down. A triangular-shaped building. I do not remember the name of the man who had the gallery, but it was—the only thing I remember was that I had 25 or 30 paintings, and maybe more, and it was very successful. [00:42:09] It could be there that A.J. Philpott spoke of my unbending wave. I don't—I would have to go back, and I'm sure I could go back and find publicity on that show, but I couldn't tell you off the top of my head.

ROBERT BROWN:  But showing, and being part of art clubs, was a pretty important thing to you from the beginning, was it? I mean, the Copley Society, the various—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I think showing, I think showing—yeah. I mean, there's not much point in doing things and stuffing them behind the sofa. I mean, you do them because you would like to have—you'd like to have someone else share the joy, and hopefully you would paint something that would have somebody feel that way. Well, I've had some success in that direction. But I think you have shows only because you're either fortunate enough to have been invited, or you are told about it, whatever the circumstances are, and there's a great variety of them, as—for example, I recall having a show out of the [Ray] Neilson Gallery, and the Whistler Museum, the Dayton Museum, and Salt Lake City, and so on. [00:44:01] Well, those things were—some of those more distant, I'm quite sure, were the result of the Vose Galleries.

ROBERT BROWN:  We should talk about them.

[END OF TRACK AAA_court82_3219_r.]

ROBERT BROWN:  —anything.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Say anything? All right. I've said—

[Audio Break.]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  With regard to one-man shows in which there have been a large number of them, I have not done any record-keeping as to why or how they happened, but I'll run through a few and try to enlighten you, and I'm sure that it won't be very enlightening. The Boston Public Library. I am sure that the curator or the director over there had seen some of my things. I can't think of his name. He was a younger man at the time.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was this back in the '30s or '40s?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was it Heintzelman? Was he there by then? Arthur Heintzelman?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Arthur Heintzelman, yeah. Had seen my things, and asked me if I wouldn't like to show some over there. And so you showed them. I never felt that this was of great importance, having had a show over there, but as I now look back, yeah, the quality, the quality of the shows, those shows they had, were invariably very good. So that was an invitation. The Addison Gallery—

ROBERT BROWN:  At Andover Academy?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  At Andover.

ROBERT BROWN:  Yes. About when was that show?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Again, I do not know. I would have to go back and look at PR.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was this back when Bart Hayes was director?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Bart Hayes, yes. I'm sure that Bart suggested that I have it. Williston Academy. [00:02:00] I remember the show, I remember taking the canvases there and having it, but—

ROBERT BROWN:  Well, which were some of the more—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —who invited me—

ROBERT BROWN:  —important shows that stick out in your mind? Whether from the reviews, or from fan mail you got, or from what fellow artists said. Which seemed to you, as you look back, to have been the more important?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I'm not sure that there are any that are any more important than others. To me, it was an exercise of hauling your paintings to a place where they had invited you to exhibit. This is so, with the exception of a place like the Dayton Museum, or the Ray Neilson Gallery in Salt Lake City, Utah. Those places were—the Vose Galleries—asked me to put the canvases together for that.

ROBERT BROWN:  How would that come about?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  That wouldn't be—they were not acting as an agent for me. I would think—and I'm not sure about this, but I would guess that they had been asked by a group of these galleries to put together a series of shows of New England painters, and they selected me, and they selected other people.

ROBERT BROWN:  Yes, I know that particularly Robert Vose Sr. used to do a bit of that. Did you get to know him fairly well?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, I knew him very well.

ROBERT BROWN:  When—you got to know him when you were quite a young man?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I first met him through H. Dudley Murphy, when I got out of art school, because there was a question as to what I was going to do. [00:04:07] Dudley Murphy, I think, wanted me—I'm quite sure—he wanted me to become associated with the Vose Galleries. I—

ROBERT BROWN:  He'd been following your work through art school?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. I went over and had several meetings with him. By this time, he had given up his studio in Winchester, and he was living, he was living in Lexington, and he had married Hale—what was her—

ROBERT BROWN:  Nelly Littlehale?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. I had several very enjoyable meetings of analyzing my future. What am I going to do, and how am I going to accomplish it? He really dug into this with a great deal of care.

ROBERT BROWN:  He was a man who really never had to work, had he? But nevertheless—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I would guess not.

ROBERT BROWN:  He had some pretty good advice.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  But he knew, and he was apparently a well-organized fellow. Among things beyond his painting, he had an interest in the Vose Galleries, in that he had a frame-making operation. What portion of it—whether that was 10 percent or whatever, I have no idea. But he—as I think back on it, I think he wanted me—instead of painting, knowing how difficult it was to make a go of painting—that he wanted me to become associated with the Vose Galleries. So I had one meeting with Bob's father and his mother, in which I'm sure that I was being observed from a point of view of, do I clean my fingernails? [00:06:08] Do I wear a white shirt with a clean collar and cuffs? Are my manners up to snuff? I was being observed and analyzed at this dinner, which was at their home. Following this dinner, then a decision was made between Mr. Vose and Mr. Murphy as to whether or not they would like to have me involved. Murphy, at this point, when he made the next announcement to me, said he thought I should try it, and that if I were successful, that at the end of five years, he would give me his interest in the gallery. Well, nobody ever gave me anything. I worked for anything I had, and this, of course, impressed me. I don't remember what I did, but I don't think there was anything formal. The association was more, um—I just don't—I can't remember that part. Apparently, I didn't do anything that was very important, nor did I think that I wanted to do it. I was doing it more because H. Dudley Murphy had suggested it. Then that caught himself under. I wanted to paint, but I, of course, was only seeing the length of my nose. I wasn't seeing how difficult it was going to be to support children on this. So yes, I had—I maintained my contact with Robert Vose Sr., and I was helpful to him in getting—[00:08:05]

ROBERT BROWN:  But you didn't—did you come on to the gallery then?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I didn't, no.

ROBERT BROWN:  You turned them down? Turned Murphy down.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah, but I didn't turn them down just so. I mean, it was one of those—I don't—I can't remember whether—because I didn't think of doing things formally. For example, I got lots—I got a number of commissions, portrait commissions, for Mr. Vose, but I got them because I liked him, because I liked the painter that he was representing, and because I was in a position to answer a question which would make it possible. This is sometime later than what I was first referring to. But I've always had an admirable respect for Bob's father, and for Bob Sr., and for Mort. And now, I say, I think that, I think that Ann and Bob have a right to be very, very proud of the twins—

ROBERT BROWN:  The way they're carrying on?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —doing as well as they are. I just think that's wonderful.

ROBERT BROWN:  But you didn't really go on into the firm, or into its frame-making?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No, no. No.

ROBERT BROWN:  You went onto Filene's?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I did something. I can't remember what. Maybe they gave me a painting and told me to take it down to Mrs. X in Providence, and see if you can't sell it to her, or what.

ROBERT BROWN:  It was pretty informal and low-key?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. Yes, indeed.

ROBERT BROWN:  And for only a short time?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I don't think it lasted more than two or three months, when it turned into a friendship instead of a business.

ROBERT BROWN:  Can you describe Robert Vose Sr.? What was he like, as you recall? [00:10:01] Or when you first met him. You mentioned—he must have been fairly formidable when they were looking you over. Or were they—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  There have been so many people that I've been involved with this way that it's very difficult to say, except he was a gentleman. I would say a forceful gentleman. I'm sure he must have been—although I didn't see this part of him, he must have been a very successful salesman. I would assume low-key. My relationship with him was that I could walk in there any time, and without waiting but a few minutes, I could sit down and have a chat with him. An incident that I remember, which is not—well, to what we'd been talking to, but I remember about—I have a painting in the other room. I'll show it to you. Um. I can't remember whether it's called Century or something like that. It was given to me. It was painted on copper. I cleaned it up and took it into Mr. Vose Sr. and showed it to him. He looked it over and said, "Do you want to sell it?" I said, "Well, blah, blah, blah, blah"—you know, I didn't know whether I did or I didn't. He said, "I'll give you $5,000 for it." Well, I'm sure I swallowed two or three times on that and said, "Let me think about it," but I was really showing it to him to find out whether I had something that was any good, or whether I should love it, or just admire it. [00:12:15] Well, I didn't sell it to him. Some years later, the paint—little fleck of paint had come off, and because I'd had the thing so long, and I'd had a nice frame made for it by Tonsburg [ph], I took it into Bob Jr. to find out where, in his opinion, would be the proper place to have this thing repaired. He took a look at it and he says, "What do you want it fixed for?" I told him what I just told you about his father. "Oh, well," he said, "dad knew where he could turn around and sell that for $10,000 the next day." He said, "You couldn't get 25 cents for it today." In other words, those religious Virgin Mary paintings were a much-wanted collector's item back then.

ROBERT BROWN:  But years later, they weren't?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Years later, they're not. Bob wouldn't know where to sell one of them today. [Laughs.] Whether that is—

ROBERT BROWN:  So you've maintained a pretty steady and warm relationship—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah, I would say steady and—

ROBERT BROWN:  —with the family?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —warm relationship. And perhaps it still goes on. Have you seen this? [00:14:00] Without reading it, you—you haven't seen it?

ROBERT BROWN:  No, I have not.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, uh, the twins, Terry and Bob—

ROBERT BROWN:  Bill.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —Bill—had their 40th birthday on the 13th of this month, and so they decided to have a party to celebrate the waning of youth. So they're having a formal wake, to which I was invited. I was telling Bob that I had an idea of something that I wanted to do, and Bob says, "Did you" [laughs] "an old goat like you get invited to that?" I said, "Yes. What's so unusual about it?" He said, "After all, they're only 40 years old, and you and I are near 100." He was really a little surprised to think that I was invited to it, but perhaps that says what the relationship is that has gone on for a long time, and apparently it hasn't stopped with Bob. It still goes on to the younger boys. You'll be interested, now that I've brought this up, what I did. I had a couple of containers, which I used in chemistry, about that big around, about that tall. I've had them for years. I'm sure I had them with the idea of filling them with blood, sweat, and tears because of something somebody had done. Since there were two of them, I said, gee, this is it. So I made a tag to go on it, which said, "The exactment of blood, sweat, and tears of mom and dad provided four decades of hell-raising, from playpen through Noble and Greenough's, plus romances and escapades, drawing overseen by Lee and Ruby Court, lamenters." [00:16:15] I have sent that down for fear that we don't get to the party. I wanted to be sure to have this. I did it up as funeral as possible, with black and purple, and so on.

ROBERT BROWN:  So they've been special friends for a long time?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I would say so, mm-hmm [affirmative].

ROBERT BROWN:  Your affiliation with two of the older art groups in Boston, the Copley Society and the Guild of Boston Artists, also has gone back many years, hasn't it?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, and you can add to that the Boston Art Club.

ROBERT BROWN:  Why don't we talk about that first, since that's now defunct? How did that begin? I remember when you—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I don't remember how it—I don't remember the beginning—

ROBERT BROWN:  You managed a show.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —as it was well before me. But I was invited—oh, I guess it was probably in 1925—I was invited to be a member of it. I've forgotten now who my sponsor was, but shortly I was—I hadn't been in it very long when I was made a member of the art committee. There was a very interesting group of men who belonged to the Art Club, and it was the center of art exhibits, or exhibiting, at that time. It was, shall we say, a prestigious place. The right people belonged to it. [00:18:00]

ROBERT BROWN:  You mean the right artists, or are you talking about the lay members particularly?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I think both. I think that the lay members were people that could support the arts, and did, and the artist members were carefully selected. It wasn't anybody. It was—they tried to maintain a high level, as the Salmagundi Club does.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was it a fairly conservative group of artists, would you say?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  You wouldn't have said that at that time. There wasn't any non-representational painting to amount to anything at that time.

ROBERT BROWN:  But, say, Impressionism or things of that sort.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, yes, there might have been some experimentation in Impressionism, but I'd say it was pretty conservative. When I say the right people, I mean right people socially in Boston, and people with the necessary you-know-what to buy paintings. I remember the top heart surgeon—no, the top brain surgeon. I used to eat with him there quite often. They had a good restaurant. They had—they were just a very interesting group of people beyond the artists themselves.

ROBERT BROWN:  Were the shows quite prominently—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. Yes, they were, and they were—

ROBERT BROWN:  —written-up?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  They were well-written-up. I'm sure that all the critics that were around at that time covered those shows, because they were the important shows. [00:20:04] From the Boston Art Club—of course, as you know, they went defunct. I can't find anybody that seems to know what happened. You know, in order to be a member, you had to give a painting. Nobody has ever found out where those paintings are. They've disappeared. Nobody can find any trace of them. Nobody has ever seen any records of what happened to them. They've just—everything in there has disappeared. They had to sell the building because it was condemned by the city. No more did they sell the building when it became a public school, or a—you know, there was something very strange about what happened there. Well, that's ancient history. You mentioned the Copley Society. I have belonged to the Copley Society for 50-plus years.

ROBERT BROWN:  How did you happen to join it? It was originally an art student's cooperative gallery.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. I'm sure that—when I say 50 years, I'm sure that when I was in art school, that one of my art instructors said, "You should," and so I did.

ROBERT BROWN:  It showed the work of a number of your contemporaries?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  Young people coming along?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. As time went on, and as the Copley had its ups and downs, and would almost run out of steam and then get revitalized and so on, eventually, in the '50s, I was asked to be president. [00:22:00] I never should have said yes, because it was just an unbelievable amount of work, because it had been allowed to go downhill too far.

ROBERT BROWN:  What do you mean? You mean—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, the quality, members, et cetera.

ROBERT BROWN:  You mean a lot of Sunday painters were in it?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah, and there was no activity. The people that were running it were a fellow by the name of Butera, who ran an art school, and another chap, who—I can't remember his name—who I think was involved in real estate. I've suspected that maybe they were involved in it because of what they could get out of it. You know, "We'll buy this building and then sell it, and it won't be any skin off our hide if—they'll do well with it."

ROBERT BROWN:  So you were president from '56 to '64. What did you attempt to do during your tenure? What were they doing?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Raise the standards, which I think we did, and get some life back into the organization. Get more participation by the members. I think, by the time I turned it over, the—we had the top painters. We had—well, we had a recognized membership, instead of a lot of Sunday painters. The standard was high. The critics were coming to the shows. They were paying attention to it. [00:24:00] There were activities going on that caused publicity, particularly in the society columns.

ROBERT BROWN:  How did that come about? Because of the—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Having the people involved that were socially up there. Of course, that is of far less importance today, because who is socially up there? That's all changed.

ROBERT BROWN:  Much more confused today.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Sure is. But then, it still was—if you had a named person socially, why, every time that named person sneezed, you could get some PR on it. So we raised the standard of the painters, we improved the quality of total membership, we got participation on the part of the membership and committees, we got social activity and lectures and that sort of thing going. I felt that the thing was going in what I felt was the right direction. When I had to—I had to quit, because I had other involvements. I think I was probably involved in the international trade fairs about that time.

ROBERT BROWN:  And the Guild of Boston Artists was another group with which you were associated in some way?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, but—

ROBERT BROWN:  —to a lesser extent?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I wouldn't—since that's recent, a little more recent, it's easy for me to—I haven't been a member of that since—I can't remember what the date is. [00:26:00] 196—well, I'd have to look it up. A. Lassell Ripley was one of my sponsors, and I've forgotten who the other one was. I've always felt that the guild was a prestigious group of painters and interested people, and interested in painting, and their standards were high. There were no Sunday painters involved in it. You can never go into the gallery but what you saw good paintings. There was—I can only think of one or two people that I would raise a question as to how they got in there. I mean, how they got to be members. But my—I haven't been active in it. I have, rather, been interested in it, and I have projected ideas and that sort of thing to them, but I have not, in any official capacity, had involvement.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did it, and does it, differ—or did it differ from the Copley Society?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, entirely different. I remember, while I was president of the Copley, of talking with—I think Hibbard was president at that time. No, it was A. Lassell Ripley that was president. I recall talking with Rip about consolidating the two. Here they are, next door to each other, each owning a building, each paying rent, taxes, expenses. [00:28:00] What the guild—what the Copley Society does is entirely different, but I couldn't see but what one would help the other. In other words, I couldn't envision that one would hurt the other. I envisioned that the Copley Society could have the second floor of the guild building, and the guild continue exactly as it is. The Copley would have a gallery upstairs, and it would be quite clear that you'd identify it as what it is. But because of the extracurricular activities that the Copley is able to generate, in which the guild does not have any interest in, and because the Copley Society is interested in having a strong organization, and the guild isn't interested in an organization—

ROBERT BROWN:  It's more just being a loose affiliation of artists?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah, in which even the artists, many that I talked with, or have talked with, about the guild, just wonder why they belong to the guild, because it's—unfortunately, it's a one-man show. The president runs the thing, and it's been that way since Bob Hunter left. When a president says, "We have not had a meeting of the board of managers since last year, because it's so difficult for them to get together," I say, boy oh boy, that's the end. That's terribly unfortunate. [00:30:00] It's a one-man show. Well, if anything—now, if anything happens to one man, the president, then where are you? What do you do now?

ROBERT BROWN:  And it's been that way for years?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Here, you've had—here, you've got inactive board of managers. You haven't got anybody that knows anything about it, so how are you going to—where do you start to put together an organization, a guild of Boston artists?

ROBERT BROWN:  Has it always been a rather loose-limbed affair, as compared with the Copley Society?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. But don't forget the Copley has had some very low periods. Well, perhaps so has the guild.

ROBERT BROWN:  The two have also, though, however, shown the same kind of artists, haven't they? Fairly traditional sort of artists?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, not the—the Copley doesn't show traditional artists presently. I think they've gone the other way. The quality of the guild is far above the Copley.

ROBERT BROWN:  The quality of the guild now?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. The quality of the guild painters is far above.

ROBERT BROWN:  Do you think such organizations serve a good purpose, since they have ups and downs, and sometimes they're poorly run?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Gee, that's a difficult question to answer. Let's reverse it and say, what would happen if you didn't have the organizations? I don't think many people would miss it, unfortunately. For example, it wouldn't be like stopping the symphony. [00:32:03] I think you could stop any of them, looking at it very objectively, and you wouldn't miss anything. Although, if you stopped it, somebody would—I mean, there's an opportunity for exposing and selling paintings. Always has been in Boston. I don't know. Somebody else would come along and start something to replace it, I suspect.

ROBERT BROWN:  What about—do you feel that the commercial galleries, there are never enough of them to give exposure to many of the quality artists, which the guild and the Copley Society have filled a role there by allowing many otherwise—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, they have. Yes, in the Copley—

ROBERT BROWN:  A commercial gallery might not pick up many of them.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Many people that are involved in showing at the Copley would never have an opportunity to show anywhere else. I mean, they—and this might be said, too, of some of the members of the guild. But—

ROBERT BROWN:  Simply because they're—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Plus, it's reasonable to say that perhaps the time has come when the guild ought to reevaluate itself and see whether or not they ought to change their bylaws and change their direction. I recall suggesting, a few years ago, that a questionnaire be sent to the 75 members of the guild.

ROBERT BROWN:  Oh, it's a fixed membership? A ceiling.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. In which you would say—you would ask maybe 20 questions. [00:34:01] The purpose of asking these questions is to stimulate your interest, the member's interest. I would feel that the answer that would come back—they never sent the questionnaire out in public, with the reason that the answer was too clear. I think, presently, a once-a-year meeting, in which a dozen people show up, and is run by one person, who doesn't want to hear any of your ideas or any of anybody else's ideas—

[Audio Break.]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Um, the—my guess is that the answers on that questionnaire would have proved conclusively that the only reason that most of the members belong to the guild are as a sales agency. That isn't good.

ROBERT BROWN:  They have no interest in a collective artists group to—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No, and I think, as historically has been, the artists are interested in taking care of themselves first, and something else later.

ROBERT BROWN:  One observation I've—occurred to me over the years from looking at such artists groups is they tend to—certain groups tend to dominate them. You say, for example, the guild has a ceiling on numbers of members. That excludes, say, 20 younger people, or people who come in who have a new way of painting, or come from different backgrounds. A few of them may gradually get in, but for years—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  That was in the bylaws, and the standards on which you are based, whether or not you shall become a member of the guild, I think, is excellent. [00:36:01] You're judged—you have to bring in a dozen paintings—or this is what it used to be—and you—and the group of managers, or the art committee, whichever you want to call them, would observe your work. Let's say that there are five in the group of managers, or the jury on the paintings, all of whom are your peers, or should be. If one of them finds something wrong, either in your drawing, in your color, in your composition, or whatever, you're blackballed. You have to be invited to come back. You just can't go back and say, "I want another try." I think, in other words, the standard is very high. Well, that was written in the bylaws in the beginning, as it was written in the bylaws that the president must be a practicing artist. I think that's a mistake.

ROBERT BROWN:  You do?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, I do, because it isn't very often that you find a practicing artist who has very much business acumen. Now, I have felt for some time that, since they have trouble, and so does the Copley, and so does any other art organization that try to have the head an artist, they can have him a figure, but he ought not to be head. He could be chairman of the board and do nothing but carry a title. [00:38:00] In my opinion, there are presidents—I mean, there are key executives, with the banks and insurance companies in Boston, who hate retiring next year. They just hate it. They have been trust officers, perhaps. Love people, love meeting people. They have endless contacts. They know what organization is. They've been involved in an institution which operates in a businesslike manner. I think that the bylaws ought to be changed, and that they ought to get a president like that in, who could put some business acumen into what doesn't have any now. Who would recognize right away that if you don't participate in it, what good is it?

ROBERT BROWN:  And it weakens the organization.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  That's right. That's right.

ROBERT BROWN:  But on the other hand, you applaud the artist-manager concept? The jurying of—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, indeed. Indeed. Nobody could do that better than the artist. But those who are doing that naturally should be the peers of anybody coming in. 

ROBERT BROWN:  Now, the founders, though, were, at a time—they were fairly like-minded artists.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  What happens when a new idea comes along? Say you could admire Picasso, but is he going to admire the drawing or the design of the majority? Would he go along with, say, the majority of the other managers? Say he were on the board of managers.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, I think—I can only put myself in the position of being one of the managers, or being one of the art committee. These are things you'd work out at that level, as to—[00:40:01]

ROBERT BROWN:  But conceivably, it could occur?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  And over the years, the guild, say, 50 years from now, its standards could be of a different ilk? Its standards in drawing—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I think it should be. I think it should stay up and, to use a slang expression, with it. And if you don't, and if I don't, stay with it, we're going to be in trouble.

ROBERT BROWN:  Be left way behind.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  We're going to be left behind in our business, in our social activities, and everything.

ROBERT BROWN:  I wanted to address that with you, because it's obvious, in your business career, beginning with Filene's, and then when you go on on your own in the 1950s, that breakthroughs, that innovations, are the lifeblood.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Indeed.

ROBERT BROWN:  If you hadn't persuaded the Filene's to finally paint over that mahogany and bring in whole theme [ph] sales—say, Mexican, to begin with—they eventually might have been known as sticks in the mud, right?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  That's right.

ROBERT BROWN:  Because someone else might have come along.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. I remember one case in point of this, where it was completely innovation. I organized, as a public relations stunt, the world's first carrying of airmail by helicopter. That started in Boston, and it went, naturally, to our branch stores. It went to Winchester, and it went to Belmont, and it went to Wellesley, and so on, then it came back to Boston. We ran that for a month. This was run at a time—and this was so important, because this was done—that a book was done on this subject, or a booklet—it was a book. [00:42:07] The thing was that thick in size. Went down to the postal department in Washington, the world's first. A store, the AMC store out in Milwaukee, was so goddamn mad to think that we had done that, that they couldn't see straight. The reason, because we got the helicopter right from under their nose, and they didn't even know that the helicopter existed. Well, I knew, only because I was a consultant to the Air Force at Wright Field, and I knew where the helicopters were, and though this thing was tied together with haywire and so on, it did what we wanted to do. It got tremendous publicity. But here's another store that was—the damn helicopter was right there.

ROBERT BROWN:  Yeah, it hadn't thought of such things.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  But they didn't think of it. We did.

ROBERT BROWN:  Do you think such things should, periodically, happen to artists groups?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Of course.

ROBERT BROWN:  Why don't we talk a bit about another one with which you've had long association of some sort, the one in Rockport? Did you maintain—did you fairly steadily go to Rockport after being with Hibbard and so on?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No. I belonged to the Rockport Art Association back in '25, and I don't remember how long I continued my membership, but I'm sure you realize that your interest and your involvements cause you to have different social contacts, to have different business contacts, and so on. I would think that I continued Rockport up until after—I don't know, maybe 10 years. [00:44:03] Then Rockport became quite a long distance. Now, to go down there to a meeting, I didn't have the interest. I was much more interested in Monhegan, and Monhegan was where I went to paint.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was this beginning in the '30s?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, yeah. Yeah, I think—yes. I was much more interested in Monhegan, and of course Rockport was getting busy, busy, busy. Monhegan was more like Rockport was when I first saw it, 10 years earlier, let's say.

ROBERT BROWN:  Would you pack your family up there and—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, and we stayed in hotel, a hotel, and so on, until such time as I bought a place.

ROBERT BROWN:  This was during that month or so that Filene's gave you off?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. Hibbard used to go up. We'd go to Monhegan in the fall.

ROBERT BROWN:  You kept that close tie with him throughout his life, really?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. As a matter of fact, where this house sits is the far end of Hib's property to the east. The other end of his property to the west is his house, and when I—

ROBERT BROWN:  Right here in West Townshend?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. When I said that I had decided that I wanted to come up here, I wanted to come because I would be close to him. I asked him if I could buy a little piece of land, and he said, "Let me think about it." He thought for a minute, and he said, "Yes, I'll let you have a piece, but it will be just as goddamn far away from me as I can get you." So it was the other end of his 150 acres of land. Interesting, as time goes on, what happens. [00:46:02] The 50 acres between here and his house, we now own. His house has been sold, and the land down in front of it has been sold. Unfortunately, he didn't last as long as I hoped. I thought he'd be around forever. He was so wonderful.

[END OF TRACK AAA_court82_3220_r.]

ROBERT BROWN:  —Townshend, Vermont. This is April 13, 1983. Bob Brown interviewing. In the late 1940s, the Museum of Science in Boston was moving to its Charles River site. A new building and so forth. You became quite involved with that, I believe, eventually becoming a trustee of that museum. Could you discuss that a bit, please?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. My involvement began—I don't remember exactly what the date was, but the museum—Museum of Natural History it was at that time—they were up on Boylston Street—not Boylston, but Newbury Street, where Bonwit Teller's are now located. Brad—I had been trying to be helpful to Brad, and—

ROBERT BROWN:  This is Bradford Washburn?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Brad Washburn, yeah. A remarkable fellow, and I might add, at this point, that Brad—what has happened to the Museum of Science, in my opinion, is—Brad Washburn can take all the credit for it. Every brick that's been laid in the building of these buildings, the contents in the buildings, the wonderment of the museum itself, is attributable to Brad. There have been lots of us that have been helpful, but it's Brad that has built the museum. Well, from—because the facility, the present Bonwit Teller facility, wasn't sufficient, we thought it would be a good idea if we could find some land someplace that would—where a museum could be built. [00:02:06] About that time, or at that time, the Pan American World Airways had their inaugural flight to Bermuda. I was chairman of the aviation committee, and was a party to making up the list of those that would be involved.

ROBERT BROWN:  The aviation committee of—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —of the Boston Chamber of Commerce.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was this due to an interest of yours in flying and aviation?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah, I've always had an interest in aviation, and served as chairman of the committee for a number of years. Well, it was—this is the period where Paul Dever had just won the governorship, and it was the interim period. He was the upcoming governor. Of course, on the inaugural trip, you want a few of the important people in the community, so I invited Paul Dever, and he and his aide accepted the invitation. While we were on the flight down there, I said to Paul, who I knew to a slight degree, that I would think that, in his position as the upcoming governor, that it would be important for him to endear himself to the children of the state, because they're the next people that will be involved in politics. And wouldn't it be a good idea if the state gave a piece of land—and I suggested where the piece of land might be—that the state doesn't need, and this—he would be doing this for the children of the state. [00:04:13] He thought that was a great idea. So soon after we got back from the trip to Bermuda, why, Brad and a group of us went down to see the governor, and he concurred that this was something that he could do, or would do, or would like to do. And so the land where the present museum is built was given to the museum, and on it at that time, there was one little building, which was maybe a couple hundred feet long. It was used as a warehouse down by—a warehouse, storehouse.

ROBERT BROWN:  But this was mainly sort of a causeway from Cambridge into Boston?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. Yeah. That little metal-roofed house is where this thing started, and the fund-raising started there. One thing led to another, until pretty soon a formal building was built, and on it went.

ROBERT BROWN:  And the governor's interest was aroused because you convinced him that the Museum of Science would be for children, among others?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. Well, an educational—

ROBERT BROWN:  An education facility.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —facility, yeah. I continued my interest until the board got strong enough, and the museum got strong enough, so that you could reach out and find other directors that could be helpful in other ways. Of course, the principal need, once you got into building, was, A, exhibit material, and B, dollars to do with. [00:06:02] When that was well on the way, I moved over, and other directors came in, and the organization continued to get stronger and stronger, and more successful.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you—Mr. Washburn recently has written his praise of your advice and enthusiasm. Did that advice include some advice on design and layout of the building, or did you work—they built a great new building.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, but only as observations that any director would make. My expertise, of course, was in design, but fortunately I had promotional interests also. Yes, I was helpful in finding people to design exhibits, to paint the backgrounds for the exhibits.

ROBERT BROWN:  What about the architectural design? Because it is one of the more—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I did not.

ROBERT BROWN:  —first more modern, large buildings.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I don't think I participated in that, other than, as I say, as a director would find fault or praise for what was being done. That was—no, Brad did, I guess you'd say, world research on what was being done, and what it appeared would be the best thing to do. I think my involvement in the design of it itself was minimal, just expressing my feelings.

ROBERT BROWN:  About this time, in '54, you decided to resign your longtime arrangement with Filene's Department Store and form your own firm of—what was it? Were they design consultants, as well as promotion consultants?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  And they were to be consultants to what? [00:08:02]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, um, I guess there's two ways of answering that. First of all, while I was still at Filene's, I was—people were constantly after me to do color schemes for their stores, for all kinds of retail outlets. I had apparently gained a very favorable reputation in that area, color and light. I knew that when I left Filene's, that I was going to make my fortune as a consultant on store interiors. Instead of being on salary, I could evaluate what the job would be, and put a price on it, or work by the day or the hour or whatever, and it would all come to me. It would all be my money. It wouldn't be going through an institution. Surprisingly, I think my first account was Pan American World Airways. A sidelight that I think is interesting—since I was simply selling experience and knowledge, I didn't feel that I needed a very large kitty in the bank, so I opened an account and had $300 in it. That's—what do you need any more for? Because everything you do, every hour you work, you're going to get paid. My first account was Pan American World Airways, and they wanted a promotional piece done. Now, this is something I wasn't going to do. [00:10:00] I did it, and as I recall, the bill to Pan Am was $7,000. A lot of this $7,000 was die-cutting for a promotional display, and the design of it wasn't that much, but there was the printing and the die-cutting. When the job was done, I promptly made out a bill, my first one, and sent it to Pam Am. Where at Filene's, our policy, or the store policy, was to pay bills within 10 days, so that was my life. I paid my bills in 10 days. I expected everybody else to. Thirty days went by and I heard nothing from Pan Am. So I called the chap that I had done business with and asked him if he had received the bill, and he said yes. He had passed it along. I said, "Well, I haven't heard anything." Couldn't understand that. Another two or three weeks went by, and he called me back and said, "I found out where your bill is." Said, "We have a new comptroller, and the comptroller has decided that no bills will be paid until 90 days." This was, this was a great, big American company, living off all the suppliers, everybody that supplied them gasoline, food, anything. It was 90 days. So the comptroller became a very important guy by taking all that owed money and holding it. In other words, he was earning interest on the money, and the poor little vendors were—so it was three months before I got paid. [00:12:01] Well, of course, I learned a lesson and changed my billing procedures when I was doing business for people like that. I made sure that I was covered, and also I made sure that I had money to cover me through them. Here we go into the borrowing of money to make things go, which I never had done and didn't want to do.

ROBERT BROWN:  At this time, were American retailers—well, I suppose the airline would be an exceptional account, but department stores—were they what you thought would be your major account?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  Were they at the point of wanting to have a new look in the mid-'50s?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, yes. This—well, as a matter of fact, that had been going on up through the '40s, that modernization and redesign of retail stores. But I had no idea—well, I had no idea I'd get involved with Pan Am. I thought I'd be involved with retail stores. Shortly after Pan Am, there was American Airlines and a number of others that I'll mention later, but the real shocker was a retail store. Here again, it was not in the area that I thought that I was going in. It was the Hudson's Bay Company of Canada, who I knew nothing about. They wanted me to come up there and—

ROBERT BROWN:  1955?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —yeah—and discuss their direction, which is a very long story, and a very fascinating one, where they—where I thought I would be involved with them for maybe six months. [00:14:00] My fee, my hourly fee, was based on the fact that it was going to be a short haul. I did not want to get involved with somebody over a long period of time, but it ended up that they were one of the most wonderful companies that I ever was involved with. I was almost totally involved with them for a period of three years. I recall, after saying I would do the job and they wanted me to do it—and this job was to help them in the developing and planning of their display function. Then they expanded this, and they wanted to include store planning. That is, the architectural phase of it. Well, in order to take on this next step, I needed to know the policies of the company. What were their policies?

ROBERT BROWN:  Yeah, what were they.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  What were they. Next time I was up, I discussed this, to some extent, with them, in a very general way, and I'll never forget the shock that I had when they told me that they were there before Canada was there, and therefore they could fly their flag above the state flag, or the national flag. Well, I got back to Boston and realized that I needed to know more about the policies of the company and what their—what were their policies? [00:16:01] So I sent a telegram to the general manager and told him, "I need to know this," and I got a very short one back that said, "This is a part of your responsibility, too." In other words, they did not have a policy or procedure for the company. They just grew like a mushroom, and they did not have policies. So it ended up that I wrote policies. I'm sure they were changed. I did their display function. I did training for them, training of their sales personnel, training of their advertising department, training of their store planning. This all started in Winnipeg, and I didn't realize it when I first came involved: they had no stores east of Winnipeg All their stores were west. I think they had a total of 157 stores, including the ones up in the Hudson's Bay area.

ROBERT BROWN:  But in western and northern Canada—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Western and northern Canada—

ROBERT BROWN:  They were a store that supplied virtually everything in those places?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  They supplied everything from cosmetics to kerosene to heat with.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did they, at this—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  And of course trading with the Eskimos.

ROBERT BROWN:  They saw the need to become more of a presence throughout Canada?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. I think, since then, they have moved east, somewhat. But they are—they were a bigger retail operation than, for example, Federated Department Stores, which was the biggest in the U.S. The sole responsibility for operating the stores in Canada was one man, who since has died. [00:18:07] He was a wonderful, wonderful man, wonderful to work with. But they gave—

ROBERT BROWN:  Who was that?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I apparently produced what they wanted, and therefore our arrangement was a very pleasant one, and just went on and on, to designing their western stores for them and so on. I don't recall the name of the gentleman that was head of their store.

ROBERT BROWN:  What did you see was their major need in terms of design?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  A source for people. Well, that's difficult to understand. When they wanted, they wanted an advertising manager, they looked within the company. There wasn't any place else to go, as in America. There were endless stores. You could steal from one another. They got their people by going out into the country, where the farmers—the kids were getting through high school—and inviting them to come in and take a course with them. I got involved in writing some of those courses for them. If you found somebody in one of their stores who was an excellent merchant, and you looked into the background of that individual, they came from out in the wheat fields.

ROBERT BROWN:  So they'd trained up their own people?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  They trained their own people.

ROBERT BROWN:  But in terms of design, they needed outside expertise?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  They had no design knowledgeability at all.

ROBERT BROWN:  What did you think were their basic needs in terms of design?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Light and color. I recall saying to the general manager one day—when we started through one of the stores, I turned to him and asked him if he was having—supplying me with a seeing eye dog. [00:20:02] You couldn't see one department from another. You didn't know what the hell it was. They were drab, they were uninteresting, they were uninspiring, they were—just everything was wrong. Of course, when that much is wrong, it isn't too difficult to make some improvement. Well, it was a great experience. It was good training for them, and I'm sure it was helpful to them. I still hear from the general managers who—the chap who was the general manager's assistant. He is, at present, the store planning director. I think he's vice president of the company and store planning director, living in Toronto.

ROBERT BROWN:  Your idea was to make it a friendly appearing place?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  Most places in Canada, there was no rival to the Hudson's Bay Company, was there?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, no. No. But it was still—they would be concerned with—I remember one thing in Winnipeg When they located their store, they located it on an east-west highway, and on the main street of Winnipeg itself, which meant that they were way out of town. The business activity was downtown, and therefore customers were hard to find. You had to go around with a magnifying glass to see customers. They were in town, but they were way downtown. So the Hudson's Bay Company made an arrangement with an insurance company. Of course, they owned all the land up there anyway, so they [laughs] gave a piece of land to an insurance company, and had them build diagonally across the street from them. [00:22:06] Well, that put quite a few thousand people at their door. But then they—well, there was a lot of this sort of thing that went on. If you have the controls that they had, you could do that. I don't suppose that could be done today.

ROBERT BROWN:  But your aim was to develop a new appearance for the store?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  New symbols?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, and such things as—temperatures in Winnipeg in the winter are 40 below, and that isn't very comfortable temperature to stand and look in windows. Also, when a door is open, that frigid cold goes inside. Well, they wondered how the dickens they could get people to stand and look at their merchandise, because if they—they felt that this was like the entrance to a great estate. You don't—you have to look through the shrubbery to see what's back there, and they had lovely merchandise in the windows, and they wanted to invite people to come in. I recall suggesting to them—and this, we were familiar with in the States, but they never heard of such thing—putting infrared lights, heat lights, outside, so that you had a band of light all along the front—heat—along the front of the store, so that you could stand there and the heat was being transmitted to you, and though it was 40 below, you were a normal temperature. There are all kinds of innovations of that kind that we in the States were familiar with, they were unfamiliar with. Again, it was—since I was involved in all kinds of innovations in store modernization, this was just, seems to me, a natural thought to have applied. [00:24:09]

ROBERT BROWN:  Store modernization in general, would you say, was influenced, or you drew upon modern architecture? For example, the Bauhaus. Some of the simplifications, and light colors, and use of much glass? What were your design sources?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  These are architectural changes that take place through the years. I don't know how to answer that, other than to say that I had a damn good art training, a well-rounded art training. Good taste was a part of what was pumping along my bloodstream. This—well, I could just go on for days talking about this, about these trends and these happenings. I think of some of the things that I did when I was first at Filene's, that by the time I left Filene's, I never would have done them, because tastes had changed, design concepts had changed. And this continues. Stores are still changing. Some of them I go into, I wonder what the hell they're trying to be. It doesn't look as though they're trying to sell merchandise. They're trying to see how wild they can be, and how disturbing they can be to the customer. But so, too, has gone the selling phase itself. Now they—there used to be salespeople that were very attentive to the customer, and wanted to serve the customer's every need. [00:26:01] Today, they don't give a damn whether you buy or not. If you buy, you take it to a central spot and they check you out, and you're handled like a lot of cattle. I don't believe that's going to work. I think we're going to come back to a more personalized way of retailing, but maybe we never will.

ROBERT BROWN:  Your art school training, there were parts of it that gave you basic ideas in design, composition?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, and colors, and sculpture. I just had a wonderful training, and I think the Massachusetts College of Art is—the instructors they had were brilliant men. They were—and women. You just didn't get—by the time you'd spent four years there, you had learned a great deal. This is what has served me and given me my income ever since then, my application of this information.

ROBERT BROWN:  Can you perhaps describe some of those people and what they taught?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, there was Cyrus Dallin, who, of course, I thought was the greatest sculptor that ever was. He was just great in himself, and his knowledge and his enthusiasm for sculpture was reflected with the students. Wilbur Dean Hamilton, Richard Andrews. These were painters who taught composition, and dwelled on composition for a period of two or three years, and even as much as four years, in training you to see and to think. [00:28:01] There was Ernest Lee Major, who was a painter, and he taught painting. I personally think that he was a better teacher—I think he was one of the greatest teachers that ever was. Highly respected by every student that he ever had.

ROBERT BROWN:  What do you think made him so effective?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Because he didn't—I think the thing that made him effective was his ability to make you look, analyze, and make a decision. Unfortunately, today, many art teachers, so-called, they will go out and—let's say their student is somebody that wants to paint, not somebody that's been trained to. Of course, they have great difficulty. So the so-called teacher takes his brush and paints on the individual's canvas, and what happens? That individual goes home and says, "Look what I did today," and they didn't do it at all. The instructor did it. I don't think they learn anything from this. Going to—a lot of people go to demonstrations and see the magic of painting. Well, I'm here to tell you, there ain't no magic to painting. It's a lot of hard work. This was the kind of thing that Major taught you, that there was no magic, and he saw that you studied and studied until you made the decisions and knew why you made the decisions. In all the 30, 40 years I painted with Aldro Hibbard, I don't think he ever once said, "Do this." [00:30:06] What he would say is, "I wonder. Compare this with this. Did you really see it going this way?" You had to think as to whether that's the way it was. You made the decision.

ROBERT BROWN:  It was only in that way that it would become part of your understanding, right?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  That's correct. That's correct. So, with that kind of training—and I don't think it would make much difference whether it was in writing or in music or what—with that good, sound training, I just can't believe that the results wouldn't be better. As I look back at some of the kids that were trained in less proficient schools, I can see the difference.

ROBERT BROWN:  When you came to be a design consultant, to work for retailing, it was simply your—you also, obviously, had the ability, though, to know where to turn to get specific technical advice, or economic information and the like, sure.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  And I'm sure that in some of those cases of knowing where to turn, I made a damn fool of myself more than once. [They laugh.] I'm thinking of one which is a classic. This is pre-art school. I was—I had been doing sign painting, signs in front of stores with smaltz [ph] and gold leaf. I recall a job in Winchester that I was doing, and I felt very important about doing this job.

ROBERT BROWN:  You were just young—a boy then, right?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I was just a boy in high school, yeah. I was doing a job for Joe Donahue's hardware store, and Joe Donahue said that he wanted a gold leaf sign with smaltz background.

ROBERT BROWN:  What's a smaltz background? [00:32:01]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, of course, I couldn't admit that I didn't know, but I didn't know either. So I went in to Sudbury Street in Boston, where there was a famous old paint company. There was an awful nice fellow behind the counter, and I went in. I couldn't let him know that I didn't know how you buy gold leaf, or that I didn't know what sign painter's flat black was. I went in, just a complete know-nothing, and I asked this fellow questions. How do you apply smaltz? I don't even know what smaltz are. Of course, this fellow was wise, and had been around a long time, and he recognized that this kid didn't know anything. He did not pull my leg. He was very helpful. But about 30 years later, he reminded me of that first time that I came in. Thirty years later, I was having—this was Carpenter-Morton Company. I was having them make the colors that I had developed for store interiors, and this involved not only Filene's, but F&R Lazarus in Columbus, Ohio. Now, I am—by this time, I have learned a great deal about it, even the making of paint, to the point where I could tell the company what I wanted and what the chemical ingredients of it should be. I chuckle when I think of those first experiences with them. [They laugh.] There are so many things that, as you go along, you pick along, get a little information, and then you add something to it. If you use good judgment in applying it, I guess that it eventually works out. [00:34:02] Certainly, I felt, when I got involved in business, and when I was up to being in my own business, that my training had been good enough, and even my training in Filene's, that it didn't make any difference what job they gave me. Whether I was in the display operation, or whether I was in the store planning division, once I got acquainted with what I was doing, and had my feet on the ground, I had all the confidence in the world that I could do it, and did do it. So when I got out on my own, and I was doing packaging, or sales aids, or visual appeal, or whatever for retailers, I did it with the confidence that I had had enough previous experience and knowledge so that I could do it professionally and thoroughly.

ROBERT BROWN:  Now, you painted throughout this time, too?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, yes. Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  Because your exhibition history goes on. You were a member of the Boston Art Club as early as 1930. Maybe I could ask—we talked about some of the earlier exhibitions. After World War II, you haven't really indicated which were more memorable than others, but you were—in 1946, there was an Art Week in Boston, and also in 1947. Was that sort of an informal gathering of many artists' work?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I think this was a part of growing up, of Boston's growing up, with the arts. [00:36:01] Jordan Marsh, for example, devoted a large area in their store to having what was known as Art Week in Boston. They invited the better, juried painters to participate in this, which became—I think it was, culturally, a very worthwhile thing for Boston to do.

ROBERT BROWN:  They had a jury, or it was—these were—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. You would be invited to show, but of course you had to pass a jury, also. This was the method of keeping quality high.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was the jury selected by the store itself?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  The store, yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was it a fairly broad range of tastes? Were they trying to show a breadth of things?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, but I am—as I think back on it now, I think it was—if they leaned in one direction or other, they leaned more toward representational painting. In other words, I would suspect, yet I don't know, that probably they went to—they may have gone to the Vose Galleries, or to the Guild of Boston Artists, and discussed with them how—what would be the best way to do this, and how do we do it to make friends instead of lose friends. Later, there was an effort to integrate it with non-representational art, which did not meet with the public's approval.

ROBERT BROWN:  Where? At Jordan's, they—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. I think some of it inched in there, but that's—I think, at that point, there was an awful lot of publicity on non-representational art at that time, but that's—I think, probably, that's why the group formed the show that they used to have up in the Boston Gardens. [00:38:16]

ROBERT BROWN:  The Boston Art Festival?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  The Boston Art Festival, yeah. Of course, that was completely the other way.

ROBERT BROWN:  Didn't it have a whole breadth, ranging from representational art? Because I know they had—some of the jurors were representational artists. I can think of one, Edward Hopper.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, they—that—I have mixed feelings about that. Of course, I [laughs] near the end of that, it had got so bad that they were showing nothing. Got bad in the opinion of a group of us. They were showing nothing but non-representational art, and we felt that the public were entitled to see both sides of the coin. Don't tell me that the public only wants to see one or the other. They want to see both. They're interested in seeing what the children do as well. So finally, there was a committee formed, the Committee for Fair Representation in Art Exhibitions, in which we tried to get their nose pointed in the right direction by having a three-jury system, for example, which they didn't want to do. They were trying to ram something down the throats of the public that the public didn't want, which I think was unfair. Well, a lot of other people did, too.

ROBERT BROWN:  Yet they had large attendance, didn't they? People would simply come out of curiosity, do you think, without thinking?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Curiosity, yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  Plus, they also had performances going on that would attract people. [00:40:02] Dance, theater.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  To this—I had a boss one time that was making reference to people's reactions to things they see, and he said that he believed that if you put a pint of whiskey in the jacket pocket of a suit in Filene's men store window, that you could sell that suit by just showing the top of the bottle in there. This—you know, curiosity. Is it full or is it empty? I'll go in and buy the suit and find out. The public are very wise, in some cases, and not so wise in others.

ROBERT BROWN:  Why did—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Very interesting.

ROBERT BROWN:  —you and your fellow members of this Committee for Fair Representation want to have representational things there if the public made such superficial judgements? Did you just think it would be a good idea to be there, regardless of the—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, I think we were doing two things. We were trying to upgrade, and we felt, in our own hearts, that where there was a natural flow of this great number of people, why show them only one thing? Aren't they entitled to see both sides of the coin? We thought they were. But we had a dreadful time trying to convince the committee that were running this that that was so. Of course, eventually, they ran themselves out. They ran themselves down the drain, financially and publicly, and perhaps through FRAE, which was the initials of Fair Representation Art Exhibitions, we—there was a considerable amount of publicity, which opened the eyes of the public, and the public raised questions, and went and looked and said, "By gosh, they're right," and—well, that's long—that's ancient history. [00:42:14]

ROBERT BROWN:  But of course, Boston, since then, has never had such a broad show as the Arts Festival began or arrived.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  It takes a lot of doing to put on a show of that kind. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of people, and a lot of money to put something together like that. I think it's too bad that it is dead. I think that if they could have seen the balance, and had a balance, perhaps that might still be going on.

ROBERT BROWN:  To judge from your list of exhibitions, were you a part of the Vose Gallery group of artists? Because they were—by around 1950, when you had a one-man exhibition at the Vose Gallery—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Vose had—there was a period where Vose had contemporary painters, which of course they don't have now. I don't know whether I was a part of the stable. I had several shows, was involved with several shows that Vose sponsored. What was I? Was I just lucky enough to be in the in group?

ROBERT BROWN:  The boss, in those days, was Robert Vose Sr., right?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes. Wonderful man.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was it quite a prominent gallery in his later years, in the '50s and '60s?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  It always was. It was from the time I was in art school, in 1925. It was the dominant gallery. Well, Casson's—Irving [&] Casson had a gallery at the time. [00:44:00]

ROBERT BROWN:  For a time, in the '20s.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  But Vose was still the gallery, and as time has gone on, and as I have been around a little bit, I think it's reasonable to say that the Vose Galleries are the most respected gallery in the United States. When I say that, I'm talking about the Kennedy Galleries in New York, or any of the others. As dealers, their honesty is unquestioned. Just everybody, in every city in the United States, speak highly of the Vose Galleries. I think they still maintain that fortunate reputation, because ethically, they're just unquestionable.

[END OF TRACK AAA_court82_3221_r.]

ROBERT BROWN:  The Vose family you had known for some time, because as I recall, you told us that Hermann Dudley Murphy, your Winchester boyhood neighbor and painter, had had an interest in the Vose Gallery, and one time even suggested you might join that firm. So you had known the Voses for some time. Could you perhaps discuss for a moment, what was it like working with Robert Vose Sr.?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  My acquaintanceship with Robert Vose Sr. was through H. Dudley Murphy. Of course, I was a kid. He was as my father—I mean, there was that difference. I think the best I could give you, the impression that I had that he was a gentleman, number one gentleman. I'm not sure that he ever said "damn." He probably did, but he just was a very fine gentleman. I think he had an ability to handle people, to inspire confidence, and he was even very nice to a kid like me. I remember when H. Dudley Murphy first proposed that I—in sounding me out, and trying to find out what my direction might be, he had me talk with Mr. Vose. [00:02:06] After we had done a little exploring together, I was then invited to dinner, to see whether my table manners were one way or another. You know, how did I handle myself? This would be important, because if I was going to do something representing him, he wanted somebody that was ethically and well—had high ethics, that was well-mannered, courteous, et cetera. Well, I guess I passed the test. And from then on, whenever I was in the gallery, I would always visit with him, talk with him, and he always had time to talk with me. I just think he was one of the greats. As I compare him with other people who owned and operated galleries in Boston, there was just no comparison. He stood alone. Now we moved—now Mr. Vose Sr. has gone, and Bob Jr. is there. I think he's a chip off the old block. He, too, is a very studied gentleman, gentleman of the first degree, and inspires confidence, and is highly respected. It didn't make any difference where you go. If the name "Vose" is mentioned, the people, whether it's on the West Coast or the Midwest, they just think Bob Vose is the greatest. Now, along come the two boys. [00:04:01] I think they are a great credit to their parents, in that they went to college, and they didn't go with the idea that they would ever be in the art business, but I think what they're doing in the art business is very—a great credit. I told Bob and Ann, a couple years ago, that I thought those two boys were a great credit to them. Yet I was familiar with the hell that they went through, as all parents do, with the helling that the boys did when they were in school and so on, but they've grown out of this. Well, have they? Maybe I hope they haven't. I think you've got to have a certain amount of hell in you if you're going to have any fun. I think Bill has got a—of the twins, I think he has the—he got the—he got more than his share of the personality phase of it. He's a very outgoing chap. I suspect that as time goes on, they will formulate their thinking, their experience, their knowledge, and it's quite possible that, in another 10 years, maybe a little longer, they may find another direction that they might want to go in, or another specialization.

ROBERT BROWN:  At the time they were showing you, in the '50s into the '60s, did they do very well by you? I mean, they had—presumably, many people came to look at their exhibitions.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, yeah. Oh, they were very successful. I think, historically, they have been successful. The—do you want to—

[Audio Break].

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Um, let's see, what was your question?

ROBERT BROWN:  Well, these—they did well by you as an artist at their gallery, in the 1950s particularly? [00:06:03] You became quite well-known.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  There are two ways of answering that—doing well by you. Certainly, at that point, I felt that I was very fortunate to be having the kind of exposures as I was having. I was very fortunate to have been put on the art committee of the Boston Art Club, very formidable organization at the time. My feeling has always been I am very fortunate to have had somebody say they would like to show my things, or to have me participate. So have they done well by me? Yeah, I think they did very well by me. Now, if you're talking about dollars, the art phase of my life, throughout, I guess, has been—the income from it has been secondary to the involvements in business, which were art-oriented, but that's where the dollars came from. Now, you find that one more and say, well, yeah, but did they sell your things? Yes, they did sell them. But I never was at, nor were very many other people, at the position that Grace Horne was with John Whorf. Grace Horne was a double-fisted seller, and when John was having a show, she had him sold out before the show opened. [00:08:04] That wasn't Bob Vose's method of doing business.

ROBERT BROWN:  It was long-term, staying with a person?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  That's right, and the confidence.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you know John Whorf at all?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, yes, knew him well.

ROBERT BROWN:  What was he like?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  John Whorf was—in my opinion, he was a remarkable fellow. He was a great colorist. He could—I don't think John was honest with himself in many ways. He had a brother that was a movie actor or a producer. I guess he was a movie actor. John could just as well have been a movie actor. He was a hell of a good-looking fellow, and as I said, a very capable painter. He could do things with watercolor that I don't think anybody else could do, but unfortunately, he was dishonest with himself.

ROBERT BROWN:  What do you mean?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I'm thinking of a time that Jonas Lie was having an exhibition in Boston. Jonas Lie was a very knowledgeable, successful painter. John came in—I had gone over, this day, to the Vose Galleries with Jonas, where Jonas was having a show. Jonas and—

ROBERT BROWN:  —John Whorf?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —John Whorf came in. I introduced them, and they chatted, and John told him what a wonderful feeling that there was in this canvas. He said, "Particularly, I like that color scheme. That's great." Said, "Would you mind, Mr. Lie, if I made a note of it?" [00:10:02] He had a little watercolor set, and he took the watercolor set out, spit in the thing, and he made some notes on it. A year later, Jonas was back in Boston, and John Whorf was having a show over at Grace Horne's. Jonas said, "Let's go over. I'd like to see that fellow we were—isn't that the fellow that we met?" "Yeah." We went over. [Laughs.] He looked, and here's the biggest canvas in the place, which is a complete steal of Jonas Lee's. He said, "Christ, it's better than mine." But—

ROBERT BROWN:  And was it [laughs] in your opinion?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I don't remember that part of it. I thought he was big enough to say—to make that observation and to say that. But John's final downfall, in my book, and in the books of a number of his—the book of a number of his contemporaries—was that—he belonged to the Art Club. He was on the art committee at the time I was there. John used to sit in those big living rooms on the first floor. Big leather chairs, books all around you. He would drink coffee. He could drink more coffee than anybody I ever knew. One day, one of the house committee was sitting, looking through a paper, and observed John with a stack of books which he had taken from the library, and he had a razor blade in his pocket, and he was taking pictures out of these books, which he would then go back to his studio and do a series on Portugal, or wherever. But he was cribbing the pictures out of the books. [00:12:00] There's no question in my mind but whatever he did with those pictures turned out to be better than what the pictures were, but it was a disgraceful thing to do. You don't—you just don't destroy wonderful books by doing a thing like that. Well, of course, they took him by the seat of his pants and threw him out the front door, never again to come back to the—

ROBERT BROWN:  Was this in the 1940s, say?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I don't—I can't remember a date on it. Yeah, I would think it was in the '40s.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was the Art Club sufficiently influential at that date to affect John Whorf's career?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah, I would think so. I can't remember when John died. I don't even remember the circumstances of his dying. When he was around, in the '40s, he was a very active fellow, a very well-liked fellow, a very capable fellow.

ROBERT BROWN:  What of Grace Horne? What was she like? Did you know her a bit?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, yes, but not well. She was short, and I think had a little bit more around her waist than she needed. She was a salesman, all the way, promoter and a salesman. Of course, that was back in the period when there were collectors. There were people that were willing to spend a lot of money, and they were willing to be convinced by a Grace Horne, or a Charlie Childs, or whomever—or Robert Vose. [00:14:00] I think if you got into Grace's gallery, and she evaluated you as being able to buy, there would be no way of your getting out without buying. Whether you bought the one you wanted or not, that wasn't important. You didn't leave without a painting.

ROBERT BROWN:  She showed strictly contemporary paintings?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  But a fairly broad range of styles?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. I guess you could say she had a stable of painters, and they were all successful. I never heard how she did financially, but she must have done very, very well. She must have done very well.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you then know her successor, Margaret Brown?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I know who she—no, I don't think I knew her.

ROBERT BROWN:  She had a very active number of exhibitions until her death in the late 1950s. It seems as though it was quite a prominent gallery for a decade or so.

LEE WINSLOW COURT: Yeah. No, I did not know her, and of course, at that—there were, in my lifetime, there were periods where I was completely involved with the fine art phase of things, and then I would get off and involved, as I mentioned, with Hudson's Bay. There were three years that were just taken right out of my life while I was involved with them, or there was another period when I was doing international trade fairs. Wonderful experiences, very broadening. Great events in my life.

ROBERT BROWN:  This is from about 1957 on?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  There, you were a design consultant, primarily? [00:16:00]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  This—there are two ways of saying that. I was doing a job for an international exhibit for Pan Am in Vienna, Austria. Just at the time this thing opened, I had been invited as a head table guest with the Chamber of Commerce group or whatever it was, and found myself sitting next to a chap who identified himself as the director of the Office of International Trade Fairs. I never heard of Office of International Trade Fairs, so I queried him about what he did, and how he did it, and did you ever try this? You know, full of enthusiasm and ideas. Apparently, what I said impressed this man enough so that he wanted to talk with me again. I think his name was Schafer [ph]. I'm not sure. He wanted to know where he could find me and when I would be back in the States. A few weeks later, I got a telephone call from his office, asking me to come down to the Office of International Trade Fairs in the Commerce Building. They had been debating, at that time, who they would get to be the producer of the American International Trade Fair in Moscow, and I was at the top of the list. I sat there for three days, waiting to see this man, and this was because Eisenhower was debating, since Russia had moved into—where was it? That was in the '50s. That would have been—not Poland, but—[00:18:02]

ROBERT BROWN:  Poland and Hungary in '56. They'd suppressed uprisings.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  All right. Eisenhower said, "Nothing doing. We'll not participate." I came back to Boston. A few days later, I got a call to come back down. There, I was asked if I would take the job of producer of the International Trade Fair in Izmir, Turkey. I don't remember whether that was first, or Salonika, Greece. I said, "What is your interpretation of a producer?" The answer was, "You have a budget, which we are given by Congress. You ideate—you research, ideate, and produce the fair." I said, "Single-handedly?" "Oh, no." "Well, what aides do I have?" "What aids do you need?" You know, banter back and forth. He was sounding me out, and I was sounding them out. Eventually, it came down to the reality of the thing, that you go to the country, and you research the problems. You do this through the embassy. As a result of finding what the problems are that we could be helpful to the countries with, you then come back and you sit down and you write a theme—a thesis, a paper—on what you think the production should be. Well, then, how do you make this production come? [00:20:02] These are now just words. You have to design it. How big a pavilion are you going to have? You have a budget, so you go back to the budget and you see what you can afford, through experience of others. What can you afford to have for building, and how much of this, then, is left to do what you want to do in the interior? Then you start the design concept, and you say, well—excuse me—depending upon what it is, or where it is, you can design up to a certain point, so that you can convey to a design firm what you want done, and you then direct that design firm to do it. In other words, you are the ideator, the planner, the inceptionist, the—you just can't believe the amount of detail there is, or was, in those things. For example, in Poland—I did Poland also, and Tokyo, Japan. In Poland, you had to think, pre-think, every single thing that went into that building—every screw, every nail, every washer—because you couldn't get anything in Poland. Nothing. Well.

ROBERT BROWN:  Then you worked—then a designer—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  So you were the designer, the ideator, the—you're the whole bloody works. Which is a—I loved it. I thought it was a great experience, and it taught me much that I didn't already know. It broadened me still further. The only bad thing about the involvement with these was that I cut my own nose doing these, because it just—I couldn't be over in Salonika, Greece doing a job, and be up in Vermont painting. [00:22:14] My policy, from the time I went to Filene's, was that I should have at least a month every year to go painting, whether it was split, some of it in the winter and some in the fall, or what. I remember when I went into my own business, I left Filene's and started my own business the following Monday, but instead of that, I went away for three weeks on a painting trip.

ROBERT BROWN:  By the late '50s, these pressures of your business were quite great, weren't they, as with these things?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, yes, because as you would successfully do one thing, then somebody else would want you. My client list at that time, when I look at it today, I say, how the hell is it possible that I—could I have done a good job on any of these? There were so many, and so diversified, like the DuPont Company, Dow Corning chemicals, Anderson Cans [ph], the advertising agents in New York, Gillette safety razor. I've mentioned Hudson's Bay Company, but the Irish government, and—it just went on and on, and each one as different as could be from the other. The Sheraton Corporation, the United Fruit Company. Now, you'd say, what the hell could you—what would they be—what design concept would you be involved in there? [00:24:04] Well, very interesting. They had a fruit fly that was bothering the bananas down in Honduras, and they wanted to know how they could get young scientists to come with them to work in their research program. So they hired me to design a means. This was the idea of how to do it, and what to do, to get scientists interested in this—it had a name about nine to ten inches long. So I went down to Honduras to see the operation, and flew around in a helicopter, and saw trees full of monkeys, and their experiments in forestry, and the tremendous research center there. Of course, they owned the whole damn place down there, or did at that time. When you see how it's done and what the problems are, I then came up with an idea of how this story could be told at—where was the meeting? It was out at Michigan. Well, it was so successful that they then wanted—they wanted me to become a permanent part of their team, which never would have worked. I would be good to solve certain design problems, but—

ROBERT BROWN:  And that would have gone against your idea in having your own firm [inaudible].

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, sure.

ROBERT BROWN:  Be in and out.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  So many of these people, if you do a good job, and you do this because they haven't got anybody that can do it, then they want to usurp you. [00:26:00] I thought it was more exciting to solve a problem and move on and tackle a new one. And stimulating.

ROBERT BROWN:  Really, your platter was very full. And yet, in the '50s, you painted as much as you could. What kinds of things were you doing then? Could you maybe describe the work? Was it different from what it was to become?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I have a book coming out by the Farnsworth Museum the middle of May, and I suggest that what you do is to buy one of those books, and that will show you, that will—

ROBERT BROWN:  Could you describe what you were doing? Can you recall, what were you attending in the '50s or the '60s? Around 19—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I was coming up either to here, in, let's see, '50s, '50s and '60s. I was coming up in the wintertime to Jeffersonville, Vermont, in the winter, and painting there. In the fall, I was on Monhegan Island, painting seascapes.

ROBERT BROWN:  Were you working with a rather loose brushwork, or was it very representational?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, representational. I can't see—having just put this book together, I can't see—I think up through the '40s, I was painting with rather heavy impasto. I then realized that it was unnecessary to see how many pounds of paint I could put on a canvas. It was more important to put on the right values, and the right [laughs] and have the right mood, and so on. [00:28:08] It would be much easier to do it with less pigment. So I don't—I can't see that, from the '40s—let's say the mid-40's—I don't think there's been much change in my technique. I think I thinned down and found I could accomplish better results with less pigment. Although, occasionally, I'd do things, particularly small things, in which the impasto is quite heavy today. But in—I don't think there's a great deal of difference. And the subject material—I love snow, I love snow, I love snow. That, without any question, is my favorite subject. And the sea, the moods of the sea, are equally intriguing. Not equally intriguing, but second in love.

ROBERT BROWN:  Why do you suppose snow is your first love to paint?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  There could be a couple of reasons for that. I studied with Hibbard. I had great admiration for the man. Though nature was his god, he was my god. I think that affection for the man had a great influence on—what do you say—what would it be? Monkey see, monkey do? I just loved everything that he did, and mimicked—no. We were too mature for that. I just had a very strong feeling for it, and snow, to me, is as a nude figure is to a figure man, or as a portrait is to—or the physiognomy is to a portrait man. [00:30:11] I think the subtlety of what happens, the illumination of the snow itself—plus, I feel quite strongly that the undiscovered part of painting, today, is outdoors. Now, what do I mean by that? I think the portrait—I think the things that the Old Masters did—the portraits, the figures, the religious studies—they did those pretty much uninterrupted. The church supported them. They could spend as much time as they wanted on a painting. They figured out their own mediums. They ground their own paints. They did everything that needed to be done in painting, and I think that they probably uncovered every invention that was possible with figure painting, interior painting. Landscape painting didn't even come into the picture until turn of the century, let us say. You know, the—

ROBERT BROWN:  The Impressionists and the Barbizon school.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. But there, there were discoveries. Each one of those men were discovering ways of getting illumination, of making their pigments work for them, of the medium to use outdoors. I still feel that today, a fellow that's painting a portrait isn't doing much different than what was done a couple hundred years ago. [00:32:06] He might be doing it better, but he's only—there are no new discoveries in it. I think the things that Jonio [ph] did for the time he was with the Vose Galleries, he was a hell of a capable painter, but what he was doing wasn't much different than what was done when they did Copley. Today, in landscape painting, I think there's an endless amount to be discovered. I think there are still great possibilities in landscape painting, and therefore, if there are these discoveries to be made, there's a greater challenge, and a greater challenge. Now, let me give you one example of what I'm saying there. Most exhibitions that you go to, where a fellow does a snow landscape, it's a black-and-white. It might be just as well in—though it's a watercolor, it might just as well be in charcoal. The fellow does not see color. He says it's too bright for him to see color. Well, the hell it's too bright. They do not analyze the snow. They don't give the reflected lights a chance. They don't know anything about it. It's too cold, maybe, to work out there in the snow. I love it. I still say that there are discoveries to be made. That's the undiscovered part of painting, I feel.

ROBERT BROWN:  Painting snow is almost an added complexity, isn't it, because it's transforming the landscape. [00:34:01]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. It's your interpretation of the landscape, and of course trying to capture the mood that exists. It's the mood that makes you want to do it anyway. But the subtle transitions that take place in a bank of snow, or a rib of snow, it's as subtle as is the human figure. The transitions that occur, the transitions that occur, color-wise, is far from black-and-white. Just look at example for the transitions of warm to cool lights in here. Look at these passages right through here. The untrained eye would look at that and simply see a mass, and I think, in most snow painters, people that paint snow, is just that, just a mass. No relationships between what's happening in those masses. To me, that's one of the excitements of it.

ROBERT BROWN:  Then you have—it's rather high-keyed light in the snow, and then, adjacent to it, abruptly, are the un-snow-covered areas, in many of your paintings.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

ROBERT BROWN:  There, you're dealing with deeper, richer colors. How do you ensure that the two areas don't jar against each other? Or should they maybe jar? Because in nature, perhaps they do.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, that's your job to correct if it does, but I think with nature, you can correct to some extent, as with making a color separation in printing. [00:36:01] If you have a color negative, I'm told that, to make a separation for printing, they can alter it only five degrees one way or the other. That is, make it five degrees cooler or five degrees warmer, but that's the limit of what they can do and what can they—

ROBERT BROWN:  Whereas, in painting, you can do considerable—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. So you are—well, you're trying to create a harmony which is the mood of what you're looking at. I don't know, in the last few years, I've done a little more work inside than I used to do. I used to do all—everything outside. I thought it was sacrilegious to paint inside. But I find that in the last five or ten years, that I have put blow-out patches, and made changes, and corrected shapes inside, which you could study without the wind blowing down your neck, and your hands about to peel off the wrist, they're so cussed cold, or, you know, the things that you get in the elements that make it very difficult to work. I had Bob Hunter, who is a still life painter in Boston, up here a few years ago. He and his wife spent two or three days. I think Bob was miserably unhappy while he was here. Some two or three years later, he told me he was. He said, "It's too goddamn cold to paint. I don't see how anybody could"—well, he—painting out in nature is not his cup of tea. It just—he's far more comfortable painting in a studio, where he has complete control, and the temperature is—so on. [00:38:07]

ROBERT BROWN:  Now that you paint mostly in studio, have you detected a change? You said you can correct and alter.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Let me give you an example of what I mean by that. This was done up in Jamaica.

ROBERT BROWN:  Jamaica, Vermont?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Jamaica, Vermont.

ROBERT BROWN:  Right up the road.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Here, your source of light is on the left. This is correct. This would be in shadow. This is less light, but there ought to be more light in here. That shouldn't be as deep a shadow. This stretch, from here to here, ought to be lighter than from here to here. When you're—the time is running away from you, the light is running away from you, and you're a bunch of nerves enduring it, you err in some of these things. This cake of ice looked to me as though it was standing up straight. The other day—see, that doesn't look as though it's laying down in the water, does it? So I took a piece of paper and changed the shape of it, so that it lays down. Now, by making a correction here, and letting the water run into here—and I think probably leveling this piece of ice, it would help it, because this one is. By softening this edge in here, and getting some warmth in here, it would help that picture tremendously. That, I didn't have time to do out there.

ROBERT BROWN:  Nature reveals itself slowly. You have to look very intensely, and when you're working under adverse conditions, you sometimes simply can't stick with it. [00:40:04]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  That's right. That's right.

ROBERT BROWN:  But the factor of memory and experience must be very heavy with you now, so that when you are working in studio, you can be pretty sure that—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Bob, it's interesting that I can go through the group of paintings here, and any painting that I pull out, I think I can tell you the time of day it was done, where the wind was, what the temperature was, or the temperature range was. Those things become so close to you when you're involved in it. It's a part of you. I can remember them for years. The same on Monhegan—things about the sea. I can remember for years. The refinements I spoke about there, which would help the picture—I don't think it would make the picture. It would help the picture. I see the mistake. I didn't see that at the time. That hunk of ice was flowing down there, and it was moving anyway, and I just put it in, but I put it in wrong.

ROBERT BROWN:  But the refinements you're making in the studio are based on many, many—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Those observations, plus years of previous observations, yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  In the sea, the Monhegan paintings, what do you try to derive from the sea? What is it that captivates you or that you want to capture?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  A moveable force striking an immovable force. The power of the sea, which I don't think anybody can paint unless they get out in a boat and have some experiences and know what's under them. I think the—shall we call them a Sunday painter, that goes up and sits on the rocks and does a big, white splash and a Kodachrome blue day, this is lack of understanding. [00:42:15] I think, as with these landscapes, if you don't—like that one of the man walking up the road, and the snow blowing, you—I couldn't do—you couldn't stand outside and do that. It was blowing 40 miles an hour, and the snow was everywhere. I made—sat in the car and made pencil notes when I saw it, and then came back, and the next morning did it. From my point of view, it's just as though I stood there. I don't very often do what I just described to you, but you couldn't possibly stand outside and do it.

ROBERT BROWN:  But again, your experience serves you in that case.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Experience, right. I think this falls true in a lot of things with marine painting.

ROBERT BROWN:  Do you see landscape painting, marine painting—have great possibilities. There's so much more to be learned by—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  —any number of people. Do you see growing numbers of artists tackling landscape painting and marine painting? Do you predict that that will occur?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No. I think you're going to find occasions where there are going to be people who paint snow better. I think that's an area which has been sadly neglected. Hibbard did it magnificently. [00:43:59] I have tried to do it, but I—there's a young fellow by the name of Whitney over in Keene, who—I've seen two or three snow things that he's done that I haven't seen anybody else do. I mean, they're—he's got great powers of observations.

ROBERT BROWN:  What do you think of the really large-scale canvasses, these so-called, I suppose, New Realists, that are quite—have been prominently collected for 10 years or so? Some of those people, who backpack in, make sketches and then work them up into big paintings.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  First of all, big isn't better. More expensive isn't better, either.

[END OF TRACK AAA_court82_3222_r.]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Uh, why today, we see these enormous abstractions—I don't care whether they're in a bank foyer, or an insurance company foyer, or wherever. They're out of scale with the human being. They're out of harmony with the architecture. They're just out of place. I see nothing to be gained in doing things of that size, and yet they're done, and I don't know whether it's the architects that are being convinced. I read something just recently of an insurance company who bought a piece of sculpture, and I guess it was pretty abstract, and the president of the company has been humiliated with unfortunate things being said about this expensive piece of art, which he now feels doesn't belong [laughs] any more on that property than nothing at all. Furthermore, you need a book of instruction on how to understand it.

ROBERT BROWN:  In terms of realist painting, have you worked at large scale?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  Some of these are good-sized.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes, I've done murals that were 2[00] or 300 feet long, and so on. I don't see any—I would like to paint a painting that would make you happy, and that you, each time you walk into the room, that you would hesitate and look at it, and not glory in it, but make a new discovery. Now, if that's so, there aren't very many people with 11-foot ceilings anymore. [00:02:03] They have eight-foot ceilings. What are you going to do with a 30, 40 and an eight-foot ceiling? It just ain't going to work. I don't think that's necessarily an influence in telling me what size paintings I should make, but since a lot of people hang their paintings over a mantle, or over a sofa, that says to me that 20x34 might be a pretty good size. In other words, not a square size. It ought to be a longer size. What a person's living conditions are, I think, would have an influence on the decision you make. If they were going to hang in a stone cave, I'm not sure that they ought to be painted on canvas. I think they ought to be painted on masonite.

ROBERT BROWN:  What goals did you—you really tried to begin painting full-time around 1960. Sort of had to wind down your consulting business, I know. You made a trip to Antarctica in 1969?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I don't remember. Was it '69, '68? Somewhere in there. Yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was that quite influential on you?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, yes. I remember Hibbard seeing the things when I came back, and he said, "Lee, this is a great discovery. These are among the greatest things you've done to date. I envisioned"—you know, and he felt awfully good about this. Well, I did, too. I just can't imagine a more inspiring place. [00:04:03] Inspiring why? Because there isn't another place in the world like it. Nowhere. Shortly after that, I was up to the Canadian Rockies, and Hib and I had discussed going up there. He went up in the '20s, and always wanted to go back, and I wanted to go back. Well, each time he would be ready to go, I couldn't go. So it ended up we had a winter with little to no snow, and so I said to Ruby, "I'm going up there." I went up with the intent of—first thing I had to do was rent a car, because this is a big area you've got to get around. Big area it is, but I didn't need a car. I didn't need a pair of snowshoes. I could have stood in one spot and painted for three weeks. There was a subject there. There was one there. There was one there. I'd never seen anything like it. It was just—there were more subjects than you could possibly paint.

ROBERT BROWN:  Now, by subject, in this case, what do you mean?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Picture.

ROBERT BROWN:  Things that lent them—could make powerful compositions?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Correct. Yeah. Of course, having rented a car, I explored around, but I'm sure I wasted a lot of time. I could have, I could have done everything that—I could have used my entire time that I was there without going five miles away from where I was, where my base was.

ROBERT BROWN:  How about the difference in scale, both in Antarctica and in Canada, as compared to New England?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Those Canadian Rockies is like trying to put the whole world on a postage stamp. You feel so insignificant [laughs] with these magnificent things up there—[00:06:04]

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you paint more broadly—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —dominating.

ROBERT BROWN:  —in response?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I don't think so. No, I painted my usual way. In Antarctica, the moods, I think, were the principal thing. Of course, your shapes were all different, your color schemes were all different, in Antarctica Boy, if I—of all the places that I have painted, the one place I would like to go back to is Antarctica Physically, I question whether I could, but that was one of the most inspiring places, and I suspect that it's different every day. It's just incredible. That's why it's Antarctica

ROBERT BROWN:  In '76, you had your heart surgery. Did this—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —put a crimp in things?

ROBERT BROWN:  —slow you down for some time?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  It's interesting. I was gung-ho to have this surgery done, because there was so much hurt. I was so glad when they were wheeling me down to do the job, which was eight hours of surgery—nine hours. I was completely surprised when, eight days later, they wheeled me down to the front door and said, "Go home." They take your heart—they open you like a clam. They take your heart out and put it on a chopping block, and they drill it, and they make repairs, and put a new valve in, and—gory goddamn thing. [00:08:03] Terrible. Eight days later, they throw you out. Well, of course, I had a false feeling of great success when I left, but then I learned that you have to have exercise, that—they threw you out after eight days, and I came back here, the second day, and—Jesus, I wondered where my spizzerinctum had gone.

ROBERT BROWN:  What do you mean?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Do you know what spizzerinctum is? It's a very special thing. It's a manufactured word. Spizzerinctum is the will, the determination, to do things, and to do these things at exactly the right time, and to be helpful to somebody else in your doing them. So I say anybody that's got spizzerinctum, they're really, they're really great. They're great. Well, boy, mine went out the window. I think it went in the pail that they put the odds and ends in after the job. Jesus, I couldn't get up and go from one chair to another. But rapidly, that came back. Three months later, I was out with a chainsaw, cutting wood, feeling great, just wonderful. But the thing that they didn't tell me about, and most people don't tell you about, is after you have open heart surgery, you have a potential of lots of other things. My first other thing was a hematoma in the back of my right leg. Well, you know, once a piece chips off one of those, it goes around and that's the end. Then I had a hematoma—I had three of them in my wrist here. [00:10:00] That was a first. The Mass General never had a patient with three hematomas in their wrist. That took four weeks to get out of. Now, because you take Coumadin to thin your blood, to keep your profementine [ph] in the right place, occasionally that jumps up and down, and scares the hell out of you. Then, a couple of years ago, when I thought everything was going dandy, I had this terrible, unbelievable fatigue, and it kept going on and getting worse. Well, it took a few months and some experimenting before I—they determined that I had a liver infection. I went down to—making a very long story short, I finally went down to the Mass General and saw the top liver man in New England, and he said, "Worry not. You're going to make it." I said, "What the hell is wrong?" "Well, it is that you have when you have jaundice, and comes from liver problems, from drinking and so on." He identified it right away. I said, "Where the hell did it come from?" He said, "The buckets of blood they gave you, in transfusions they gave you, when you had your heart operation." I said, "Yeah, but that was six years ago." He said, "Yes, but that's been laying dormant in your system until just now."

ROBERT BROWN:  You mean there were impurities in some of that?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  There are more—I have heard from people, whether true or false, that where you have blood transfusions—they can do the operation, and the operation is perfect. [00:12:03] You're released from the hospital and you go home, and then you come down with this terrible fallout from it, which is the infection that you get from the blood. Now, you would think, with all the wonderful things that—of course, they take your heart out, and they put a new one in. It seems to me they could filter the blood so that you don't have these infections in the blood.

ROBERT BROWN:  But apparently not so?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Not so. So I'm still struggling with this thing, and it handicaps. It means that, instead of my going out—and thank God I didn't have to use the snow blower more than twice this winter, because this fatigue that overtakes me at noontime, and it overtakes me again at the end of the day, this is that blood infection that I got.

ROBERT BROWN:  It probably has—naturally, it's affected the consistency with which you work—paint.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Oh, sure it has.

ROBERT BROWN:  But has it, to any degree that you can see, altered in any way your landscapes—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  The quality? No.

ROBERT BROWN:  —marines?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No.

ROBERT BROWN:  Or the things you're interested in in the landscape?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No. For example, last summer, I had—I just had a wonderful summer painting. I was painting with a don't-give-a-damn attitude. Instead of being very serious, and starting with a plan and working to the end of that plan, I did a lot of sketches. I felt completely free to. I wasn't obligated to have a show. I wasn't obligated to anybody for anything. I just wanted to paint, and paint as well as I possibly could. I'll show—

[Audio Break.]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —first of all, I wasn't doing something big. [00:14:00] I was trying to do something that had the strength and feel of the water. I was trying to develop, or design, foregrounds that would support the action of the water. Naturally, I was interested in the moods. So, here's one.

ROBERT BROWN:  Okay, well, we immediately notice they're much looser than your usual pulse [ph].

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  They're done more quickly.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, they are done quickly.

ROBERT BROWN:  There are smaller—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Again, I didn't feel that I had to have the drawing exactly as it was. I did these things partly in the studio, and partly outside.

ROBERT BROWN:  You caught the light as you could. This is a very highly lighted, sort of a sun—yellowish, large parts of the sky. Did the composition in these cases simply consist of sitting down in a certain place, where you saw something that seemed promising?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  These are places that I have painted again and again and again. In previous paintings, I have felt the construction in the foreground didn't lead you into the picture, and for reasons I wish that I had altered it or designed it thusly. So in these, I made those thusly changes. This was painted right from the front deck. There was a two-master coming in, and the thing that intrigued me was that here was the sun, about to drop over the horizon, and this illumination was coming through the sails on the two-master.

ROBERT BROWN:  This is much higher-key color than your usual colors, isn't it?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  Do you think, last summer, you had a particular attraction to rather bright coloration? [00:16:02] Because all of these are—including this one of fall foliage.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  This was a fall—thing I did last fall. It just happens to be in this group.

ROBERT BROWN:  What do you think, that these very quick paintings—what do you think you've accomplished—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Spontaneous.

ROBERT BROWN:  —accomplished in them?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Feeling freedom, and the spontaneity that I might not get in another one.

ROBERT BROWN:  Do you think you'll continue to try, in your painting, to maintain this spontaneity?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I don't know. That depends [laughs] when I start swinging the brush, what happens. As I say, I want to do this series of marines, which, if I got a good one out of the group, I might then do a larger one, and I might not.

ROBERT BROWN:  You mean, based on these?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Based on these, yeah. These serving as the sketches. Then, early last year, in the spring, before I went to Monhegan, I did this one, in which—again, who cared whether I did it or didn't do it? I liked the subject, and so I did it. But after I got it done, and I got the canvas back here, I put it on an easel and looked at it. I said, gee, that thing is kind of flat and uninteresting. I know where it is, yes. [00:18:00] That's up in Manchester. But that field, my God. Can't I do a field that's more interesting? So then I repainted the field. Not this stuff here. Repainted the field—

ROBERT BROWN:  The farmer bringing in hay that you painted the stubble, the field, in what, a higher key?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I repainted—well, in a—I'd call it a technique, in which I got more excitement into the foreground. After all, the horse and the hay is pretty much in the foreground, and I felt just a sweep, a value, down there wasn't enough. If you look at it rather carefully, it's just full of color. It's unlike anything that—

ROBERT BROWN:  These abrupt brush strokes, somewhat like the ones the Impressionists used.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. I just felt that this better expressed what I felt about this field than the way it was. Then I did one other small thing.

ROBERT BROWN:  This is an interior, more or less a still life, isn't it?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah. This farmer's source of water was up through this bent tube, and the water came down here into a wooden pail, in which the water continually ran, and it overflowed the wooden pail. This scoop, which was copper, he would take his water out of there to heat it on the stove or whatever. But I did this—quite unlike me—I did it because I had a strong feeling for the way this fellow lived. I like it so much, as a design, that I'm going to do another one, in which it will be short way top. [00:20:04] I'll cut—

ROBERT BROWN:  What do you mean, short way? Oh, I see. It will be a vertical—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Vertical, yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  —composition, instead of horizontal.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  In which I cut it off here, and cut it off here, which would be like putting a searchlight from this window back onto this, so that all the interest is right in here.

ROBERT BROWN:  Focused on the bucket and the spigot. Now, is this—this was done fairly quickly, too, sitting in this man's place? 

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  In this, are you more interested in composition, in the water and the textures?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  No. What I was interested here was the light on the subject, and then—

ROBERT BROWN:  The light coming from outside.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —the quaintness of the subject itself. Now you said—

ROBERT BROWN:  Where do you think your—

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  —what are you going to do? Are you going to do this this summer? Well, I don't know. I have a feeling that—I don't feel that I know as much about watercolor as I should.

ROBERT BROWN:  Because these were all oil sketches we were just looking at.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  And again, the problem of hauling stuff to Monhegan, and hauling it back again, and the fact that I'm having a show this summer, the month of July, and that means 225 miles back from Monhegan, and 225 miles back up there, and I find driving is getting a little tedious for me, again, because of the heart.

ROBERT BROWN:  The fatigue. So you might do watercolors? [00:22:00]

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  I'm thinking about doing some watercolors this summer, and again, not caring—not the idea that I'm going to do watercolors and have a watercolor show, but to do some watercolors, to do them the way I want to do them, not the way you do them, not the way the other person does them.

ROBERT BROWN:  Do you have any—do you feel that the spontaneity—you wish you could have exercised it earlier? I mean, not had various constraints?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Of course. I think you always, you always look for the ideal, which you wish there were more time to do things, you wish—I've been on painting trips in the wintertime, when it snowed every bloody day, and you got no work done. You wished that every day was sunny, but if every day was sunny, then you'd wish there were some gray days mixed in. I think you're always wishing for ideal—

ROBERT BROWN:  No, but this spontaneity You wish you would have had the feeling, devil may care, I will just paint what I want to paint?

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  Well, I think I've always done that. Nobody has dictated—

ROBERT BROWN:  No, I realize that, but you mentioned earlier that beginning last summer, you did have a feeling of—greater than before—of doing what you pleased.

LEE WINSLOW COURT:  This was—there was a physical something in this as well. I just—this was the way I felt about it. I didn't have to do any—

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:  Excuse me—

[END OF TRACK AAA_court82_3223_r.]

[END OF INTERVIEW.]

How to Use This Collection

Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Lee Winslow Court, 1982 January 27-April 13. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.