In the 1920s, artists made up from twenty to twenty-five percent of Woodstock's population during the summer. It was an extraordinary number, since the town had a year-round population of one thousand or fewer, which was augmented in the summer by tourists as well as by artists who wintered in the city.
The art colony at Woodstock, New York, began in 1902 with the establishment of Byrdcliffe, designed by its founders to bring together and encourage development of an artistic community "nestled in a Catskill valley lying between Overlook and Ohayo mountains some eleven miles to the northwest of Kingston [ New York]."1 Early funding for Byrdcliffe was derived from a large inheritance received by Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, an English-born visionary who felt he could realize his dream at Woodstock, a town with a year-round population of less than 1,000 people nearly one hundred miles north of New York City in the Catskill Mountains. He turned to Woodstock after earlier attempts during the 1890s and 1990s to develop artistic communities in Europe, Oregon, and Santa Barbara, California.
The founders of Byrdcliffe included Whitehead and his wife, Jane Byrd McCall, artist Bolton Brown and writer Hervey White. Whitehead, from Yorkshire, England, had attended Oxford University in the 1870s and studied art with artist and critic John Ruskin. He was profoundly influenced by Ruskin's "ideal community" theories, and became financially able to pursue these ideas upon receiving a large inheritance in 1886. Jane Byrd McCall, from Philadelphia, was studying art in Europe when she met and married Whitehead in 1892. Together