Florence Griswold Museum

Old Lyme, CT




American Impressionism from the Florence Griswold Museum

September 30 - November 26, 2000


Impressionism continues to be one of the most popular and widely-recognized styles of art, evident in the recent number of museum exhibitions dedicated to the subject. By highlighting works by artists associated with the Lyme Art Colony, American Impressionism from the Florence Griswold Museum provides audiences the opportunity to explore the major aspects of Impressionism while considering the contributions of one of the most important art colonies in America. This exhibition of over 30 paintings from the Museum's premier collection is on view from September 30 through November 26, 2000. (left: Frank Dumond, Top of the Hill)

Using individual paintings to feature specific techniques, American Impressionism from the Florence Griswold Museum illustrates advances made by American painters working in the Impressionistic style. Childe Hassam's Late Afternoon Sunset, for example, displays the broken color method with obvious brushstrokes separated from one another. In Willard Metcalf's Summer at Hadlyme, the artist applied paint to the canvas in thick raised strokes, a technique called "impasto," to convey the multitude of color and form found in the garden. Old Lyme Garden by George Brainerd Burr (1876-1939) illustrates how artists used pure patches of color, placing paint directly on the canvas rather than mixing it first on a palette. Works by Willard Metcalf, Charles Ebert, and Frank Vincent DuMond and others interpret additional traits such as the use of a high horizon line, asymmetrically balanced compositions, and the influence of Japanese prints.

What differentiates Impressionists from previous generations of painters was their interest in painting out-of-doors, directly in front of nature. This quest for natural settings not only gave the artists a new breadth of subject matter, it afforded an opportunity to gather in informal, creative settings where like-minded individuals could socialize and critique each other's work.

At the beginning of the 20th century American painters searched for their own version of the art colonies they experienced abroad. Just as French Impressionist artists found refuge from Paris in the lush countryside of Argenteuil, many American artists were drawn to the scenic shoreline around Old Lyme, Connecticut. Here they could paint vernacular subjects such as weathered barns, timber bridges, gardens, and old homes that spoke to their fascination with the Colonial roots of New England. Other artists of the Lyme Art Colony turned to the meandering tidal estuaries, rocky ledges, wooded uplands, and open pastures that define Lyme's specific sense of place.

As important as their creative work, Old Lyme was a place where the artists could relax over lunch, toss horseshoes, and paddle along the Lieutenant River. They found the picturesque countryside and the hospitality of Miss Florence Griswold's boarding house irresistible. Here was a congenial setting where the light and landscape was just as captivating as in France.

As artists had done in the hostelries abroad, those of the Lyme Art Colony adorned the doors and wall panels of Miss Florence's boarding house (now the Florence Griswold Museum) with their artwork. By doing so the artists left a permanent reminder of their talent as well as a sense of their camaraderie. The famed dining room has over 40 works by 34 artists, providing a chronicle of the Lyme Art Colony and the influence of Impressionism in America. Visitors to the exhibition have an opportunity to view this and other historic rooms as well as walk the 11-acre grounds where the artists lived, worked and played.

rev. 10/3/00

Read more on the Florence Griswold Museum.in Resource Library Magazine

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For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/4/11

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