Fifty Photographs: selections from SCUA collections

Mother and child... and dog

By Burt V. Brooks, ca.1910

Where Burt Brooks learned his craft isn't clear, but for the decades spanning the turn of the 20th century, he was the best known visual chronicler of the Quabbin region. A resident of Greenwich, Mass., one of the four towns inundated to make way for the Quabbin Reservoir, Brooks cobbled together a living through farmwork and selling paintings, photographs, and postcards. His work depicts a slice of ru life in a rural Massachusetts backwater that would soon be erased from the map.

Despite the occasional tinge of nostalgia, Brook's work is generally marked by the frank understanding of a neighbor looking at neighbors. Among his many evocative images is this antsy triple portrait of a young child, strapped onto a bench on his front porch, his dog by his side, and his mother half-lurking nearby, crouched behind a pillar.