William James Stillman’s painting “The Philosophers’ Camp in the Adirondacks.” Courtesy of Concord Free Public Library
By Philip Kokotailo
Will recently reported discussions about the future of Follensby Pond (between representatives of the Nature Conservancy and New York State) acknowledge the powerful themes of art as well as the enduring lessons of history? Let’s hope so. It was Follensby Pond, after all, that provided the setting for William James Stillman’s 1858 painting, The Philosophers’ Camp in the Adirondacks. It has become, in the 163 years that followed, the most frequently reproduced image of a much-celebrated event. The past two summers in particular reveal why.