The Third Generation

Michael & Nicoleta Watson, Pittsford 1983. Photo courtesy Anastasia Watson Markson.

Michael Lasell Watson (1918-2012)

Nicoleta Zervas Watson (1927-2011)

Michael and Nicoleta Watson, the son and daughter-in-law of James Sibley Watson, Jr. and Hildegarde Watson, lived with works of art that were passed down to them by the previous two generations, and generously donated many of them to the Memorial Art Gallery. After majoring in music at Harvard, Michael Watson became a scientist like his father, doing some of the earliest research into mitochondria using electron microscopy at the University of Rochester.

While sharing their parents' and grandparents' love of music and art, this generation of Watsons were connoisseurs of craft. During the 1960s, they invited Wharton Esherick to design their new home in Pittsford, near Lake Lacoma. Esherick is considered the father of the Studio Furniture movement and was an important influence on Rochester artist Wendell Castle. The home's unusual structure, with a sculptural wood staircase by Esherick, also included tiles made by ceramist and long-time family friend Frans Wildenhain, who lived nearby.

Like his father, Michael Watson was multi-talented. In addition to being a musician, he was a photographer, grew orchids, made telescopes and ground his own lenses, and designed and patented loudspeakers. He also became an accomplished woodworker and made exceptionally elegant pieces of furniture, including the small table on view in this exhibition.

We are grateful to the children of Michael Watson for depositing the family's archival material at MAG. It has been and will continue to be an important resource for scholars interested in this exceptional group of "connoisseurs around the corner."