Walter Elmer Schofield, Wissahickon in Winter
From the 1920s until the 1940s, while living at his brother’s family home at 408 West Moreland Avenue in Chestnut Hill, Schofield would walk the Cresheim Valley and paint the Wissahickon. A special work for the family, Wissahickon in Winter was hung prominently in their home. It was handed down in the family until it was recently given to Woodmere.
Schofield was acquainted with Chestnut Hill “founders” George and Gertrude Woodward, who were collectors of his work. The artist was aware that the Wissahickon he knew and loved had to a great extent been transformed and renaturalized thanks to the foresight and generosity of the Woodwards, together with the City of Philadelphia. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Wissahickon had become a busy and in some areas barren mill creek, home to a portion of Philadelphia’s paper industry. It was only in Schofield’s lifetime that the mills were purchased and demolished and native trees, perhaps like the sycamores depicted here, were planted. The goal was to protect the city’s water supply and add to its remarkable green asset, Fairmount Park.