A Search for Solace at Innisfree Gardens

Courtesy of Innisfree Gardens

Art itself is often closely associated with some form of solace or peace. Though not all art exists to establish in oneself an inner tranquility, many find that it has a soothing or therapeutic effect that seems to translate all human boundaries. W.B. Yeats, an Irish poet from the late 19th and early 21st centuries, pondered this solace-seeking. He, too, wanted peace and dreamed of an escape, a place far removed from the bustle of everyday life.

He called it Innisfree, an island in the middle of a lake that he immortalized in an 1888 poem (below). “And I shall have some peace there,” he pondered, imagining nights spent in the center of a pool of placid water, the midnight aglow around him.

Yeats’ yearning for Innisfree was shared by a couple from New York State by the names of Walter and Marion Beck. In the 1920s, they settled in the town of Millbrook and began planning their own private Innisfree nestled in the midst of their country estate.

Walter was himself an accomplished painter and former professor at both the Art Institute of Cincinnati and the Pratt Institute in New York. At one point in his solo career, while experimenting with the use of new materials, he developed a method of tempera painting that used starch as its base.

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