Florence Griswold Museum Presents Connecticut Treasures: Works from Private Collections

The Florence Griswold Museum Presents an Exhibition Connecticut Treasures: Works from Private Collections, open through September 19 , 2010.

Much of the state’s rich artistic heritage is privately held; these works have been cherished and preserved by their owners, often over several generations. By drawing upon private collections, Connecticut Treasures opens the door to a diverse selection of art works, many of which have never before been publicly exhibited. Connecticut Treasures comprises over sixty works in a variety of media, including painting, works on paper, and sculpture, all reflecting the diversity of Connecticut’s contributions to American art and the beneficence of its patrons over the past two centuries.

Willard Metcalf, Kalmia, 1905. Oil on canvas, 34 x 34 inches, Museum Purchase

The state’s early contributions to American art highlight the natural beauty of the region’s landscape. George Henry Durrie’s snow scenes like Winter Landscape with Horse-Drawn Sleigh, ca. 1863, laid the groundwork for New England’s regional identification with winter in the American imagination. Well-known Hudson River School painter John Frederick Kensett resisted the grandiose and sublime Western and South American landscapes of his colleagues, choosing more intimate scenes like Rhode Island Meadow. Landscapes painted in the Tonalist style, which originated in the nineteenth century, recall the early aspirations of the Lyme Art Colony, led by Henry Ward Ranger.

The artistic communities that developed in Connecticut, here in Old Lyme and elsewhere in the state, eventually fostered the development of American Impressionism. This new movement, adapted from France and exemplified in the work of Willard Metcalf and Wilson Henry Irvine, flourished in this country, remaining popular with collectors to this day. Not only is the Museum’s latest acquisition, Kalmia (1905), by Willard Metcalf an excellent example of American Impressionism, it demonstrates how an artwork, held privately for generations, has made its way back to the public. The Museum recently purchased this painting of blossoming mountain laurel along the banks of the Lieutenant River. It had been in one family for over 70 years and came with its original bill of sale from 1934. Kalmia is one of the most significant paintings Metcalf completed during his time at the Lyme Art Colony. It was much celebrated during his lifetime, but was somehow lost to the public. With its purchase by the Florence Griswold Museum, the painting joins the largest public collection of Metcalf’s work. “Kalmia is an iconic image of Old Lyme and a magnificent example of America Impressionism,” states Jeffrey Andersen, director of the Florence Griswold Museum. “Perhaps because of Kalmia, mountain laurel became a much painted motif within the Lyme Art Colony. Kalmia is a picture that people coming to the Museum will find tremendous pleasure in.”

Florence Griswold Museum 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT 06371 860-434-5542 phone


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