A classic Max Bohm painting, “Study for Pilgrim Mural,” has been the subject of quite a controversy in this Massachusetts town
A flap has arisen over a proposal to move the oil painting, which shows a group of Pilgrim men in a wooded scene appearing to cast votes while a Native American stands to the side.
The selectmen voted two weeks ago to allow the painting to be moved, at the discretion of the Art Commission. This week the board changed its mind, with Board of Selectmen member Sarah Peake being the swing vote.
Some in town say the painting depicts an important moment in the town’s history, the signing of the Mayflower Compact on Nov. 11, 1620, and therefore shouldn’t be moved.
Peake, who had voted to remove the painting, had remarked about the lack of women in the scene.
“I think it’s trying to change history,” Bohm’s granddaughter, Anne Packard, said on Monday, prior to the selectmen’s revised vote. “What do the selectmen want to do next, take down the statute of Iwo Jima … because there’s no women in it? I think the selectmen were elected to run the town’s business, not the taste of the paintings. If it offends Sarah Peake then that is too goddamn bad. I’m furious.”
The board eventually voted, 3-2 to allow the painting to remain.