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Tish Roberts Remembers Wynn and Elizabeth Sayman

The Berkshires in Western Massachusetts have a special character ‒ one of culture and creativity: Lenox with Tanglewood and Shakespeare & Company, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, the Hancock Shaker Village, Stockbridge with the Norman Rockwell Museum, and the antiques shops dotted throughout the scenic hills.  Perhaps it was all of those elevating institutions and opportunities that attracted Wynn and Elizabeth Sayman to what would appear to less inquisitive and imaginative people to be just the “other end” of the Bay State.  Wynn from Louisiana and Elizabeth from Indiana were hardly native New Englanders, and Richmond, Massachusetts, where they found an old Federal farmhouse in a field, was a “blink and you’ll miss it” village.  But they were captivated by the possibilities, and they turned “Old Fields” into the most charming and hospitable Berkshires home, filling it with period furniture and ultimately with the 18th-century English ceramics that gave the rooms their lively personality ‒ a reflection of the Saymans themselves.

They completed the transformation by abandoning their medical careers to become dealers in the 18th-century English pottery and porcelain they had found so enchanting, and in which they had become immersed and knowledgeable.  Through the various antique shows in which they participated, they developed a devoted clientele, and although I cannot remember when I met Wynn (who was the active principal in the business), he exuded such warmth and good humor (he was a marvelous raconteur) that he and eventually Elizabeth and their daughter Lisa, became cherished friends, far surpassing the usual formal business collegiality.

To visit the Saymans at “Old Fields” was to understand what the overused word “passion” means.  Clearly they were passionate about pottery and porcelain, although as a dealer, Wynn kept not the most important pieces for “Old Fields,” but rather the pieces that spoke to him and Elizabeth and that touched their hearts.  Indeed, their hearts and eyes and minds touched everything in their lives. They were devoted to their daughter and their three whirlwind granddaughters, whose many activities and talents they cheerfully encouraged while pursuing their own interests and profuse talents from cooking and potting to needlepoint and gardening ‒ they were avid horticulturists; they loved nature in every form: plants, animals and birds, studding their field with bluebird houses.  And of course they were great supporters of the Berkshires’ arts in all their variety.  But above all, their passion was for that gentle world around them into which they fit so perfectly and flourished so generously; and which in a blink has been so diminished by their absence.

Letitia Roberts

Time & Location

 

Property from the Collection of Wynn A. and Elizabeth F. Sayman
Wednesday, January 19 at 11am

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