Ideas

Legend and Lore in M.Y. Wynne's Art

Returning to the Manse As a Ghost

© Memorial Hall Museum, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association

Returning to the Manse As a Ghost

Madeline Yale Wynne, oil on canvas, c. 1890.

Ever adventuresome, Madeline Yale Wynne was a metal worker, a jewelry maker, a wood worker, a basket maker, an author of both fiction and nonfiction, and even a painter. In this work, the artist imagines herself Returning to the Manse [her Deerfield home] as a Ghost. The painting points to a mystical strand that can be found in a number of things which she created. The subject of her "jewel box cover of inlaid silver with moonstones," for instance, is the "legend of the hare in the moon," a theme to be found in the folk tales of many cultures. Her most famous short story "The Little Room" (1895) is a haunting tale of a vividly remembered space in an old Vermont house which keeps appearing and disappearing between the numerous visits made to it by several generations of one family. These visitors are kept in suspense by two aunts who consistently deny that the room ever existed. The house burns to the ground before the mystery is solved.