A Hastings view of the Palisades from a
Christmas card by Helen Patterson Williams,
hand printed, 1940.
The Clearing by Helen Patterson Williams,
Dock Street, Hastings
by Helen Patterson Williams,
A flier advertising pen and ink drawings
by Winifred Murphy.
Sketch of a house by Winifred Murphy,
charcoal and watercolor, 1969.
Interior of 31 Sheldon Place by Winifred Murphy,
original pen and ink drawing reprinted on a Christmas card.
Two very different artists who lived and worked in Hastings in the mid-20th century were the subjects of an exhibit at the Hastings Historical Society Observatory Cottage.
Helen Patterson Williams was an established commercial artist when she moved to Hastings from Boston in 1907 with her new husband, Herbert Deland Williams, also an artist. She specialized in Arts and Crafts-style jewelry and interior decoration. Allergic to oil paint, Mrs. Williams worked mostly in watercolor and tempera; her many views of the Hastings landscape and waterfront have a distinctive mellow hue. She was also a prolific producer of illustrated and illumined social invitations, many of which contained local scenes.
Apart from her finely detailed pen-and-ink drawings, Winifred Murphy is probably best remembered as a long figure walking up and down the hills of Hastings. Hers was a solitary life often punctuated by illness. She graduated from Dobbs Ferry High School in 1940 and worked for three years in the drafting department at Anaconda in Hastings. After that "all-demanding monotony," she went back to college, graduated from Barnard, and taught art for two years until illness brought her back to Hastings. Her walks through the village became part of her recovery and then a path to a new career: She began making and selling pen-and-ink drawings of private houses in the area, many of them still cherished by the homes' owners. Her work also included wood block printing, textiles and decorative wallpaper friezes, and abstract oils. She died in a Manhattan nursing home in 1996.
The Historical Society exhibit included about a dozen of Williams' paintings plus several small postcards and, from Murphy, large and small sketches of local homes plus paintings and wall hangings.