Old lyme colony lyme art association


A gathering place of landscape painters, who formed an artists???colony and Art Association in Old Lyme, Connecticut in the early 20th century. Old Lyme was one of the art colonies in America originating between 1890 and 1910 whose members focused on landscape painting and created a new awareness among Americans of the beauty of their land. Old Lyme was a small village located where the Connecticut River meets the Long Island Sound. The colony was first called ???The American Barbizon??? because it was defined by Tonalism led by Henry Ward Ranger, who arrived in 1899. However, Ranger and his Tonalist style were soon overshadowed by the arrival in 1903 of Childe Hassam, who brought Impressionism. Donelson Hoopes wrote that ???Under Hassam, the shoreline of Connecticut became a kind of Giverny of America???. (Benton 123) As a result of the influence of Impressionism, the Colony ???became the most famous Impressionist-oriented art colony in America??? (Gerdts 221) and to its detriment, clung to that style into the post World War I era when Impressionism was very much waning in popularity. However, in the Colony???s beginnings, increasing numbers of painters arrived, and many of them stayed on Main Street at the Georgian-style home of Florence Griswold who, from a distinguished family, took in boarders because she needed the income. Known as The Griswold House, the somewhat dilapidated structure became the communal center and the early meeting place of those who, in 1914, formed the Old Lyme Association. The goal of the Association was to have a well-lit exhibition gallery, something not achieved until 1921. Designed by New York architect Charles Platt, the gallery opened on August 6 and was the first self-financed gallery of an American art Colony. However, in the next two decades interest in the exhibitions waned because of the intransigent dedication of its exhibitors to Impressionism in the face of changing tastes towards modernism including Social Realism and Regionalism. The Old Lyme Association had financial problems and by the late 1930s was considerably weakened. Assocation rules were that membership was open only to artists owning property in Lyme and living there a certain number of weeks each year. Frederick Sexton was anxious enough to join the Lyme Art Association that he bought land from Guy Wiggins and built a home there. Shortly after, in 1936, he was elected to membership, and years later was very angered when the Association relaxed those rules and allowed artists who lived within a twenty-five mile radius of Lyme to be members. Meanwhile the Colony had an art school, the Lyme Summer School of Art, sponsored by the Art Students League of New York and staffed with long-time League teacher, Frank DuMond. The school became so popular and overcrowded that it moved to Woodstock because of working artists feeling distracted by so many students. As a testimony to the friendship that Florence Griswold had shown the many artists who came to Old Lyme, an Association in her name was founded in 1936 with the objective of using income from operating her house as a museum and from exhibitions to support her care. She died a year later, and her home is now the Lyme Historical Society. American artists whose names are linked to the Old Lyme Colony are Willard Metcalf, Clark Voorhees, Frederick Sexton, Charles Ebert, Walter Clark, Walter Griffin, Will Howe Foote; William Chadwick, George Burr, Gregory Smith; Allen Talcott, Cullen Yates, J. Alden Weir, Edward Simmons, Robert Nisbet, Chauncey Ryder, Lawton Parker, Katherin Adams. (Written by Lonnie Dunbier) Sources: William Benton Museum of Art, ???Connecticut and American Impressionism???; Helen K. Fusscas, ???Frederick Sexton, 1889-1975???; William Gerdts, ???American Impressionism??? (221-227;