Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Artist's Garden Exhibition At The Florence Griswold House And Museum

In my last post I showed Florence Griswold's historic home and property, but the main reason for my visit was to see The Artist's Garden exhibition in the museum.  I made it just under the wire on the last day and I'm so glad that I did.  It was a beautiful exhibit and one of the best I've seen in a long time.

It is about a two and a half hour ride to Old Lyme, CT from New York City, so we jumped in the car and made our way up there.

It was a gorgeous day out and it was nice to get out of the city for a few hours.

Aside from being a beautiful exhibit, it was very educational.  I had no idea that there was a Garden Movement or that it inspired the American Impressionists after having spent time in Giverny.  I knew that they had visited there, but I did not know that there was a formal name for what was happening at the time that they began returning to the United States.

As the article above states,  the creation of public parks and private gardens happened during a time (1887-1920) of great political and social change.  When these American artists came back to the US they started their own gardens as a source of creativity, in and out of their studios.

Robert Vonnoh, November, 1890

Theodore Robinson, Autumn Sunlight, 1888

Willard Metcalf, The Eel Trap, 1888

Willard Metcalf, Dogwood Blossoms, 1906

The above photo, The Garden Path, by Frank Vincent DuMond was started on a trip to France in 1897.  In 1892, DuMond started teaching at The Art Students League of New York and frequently took his students abroad and later taught as a summer instructor in Old Lyme.

Daniel Garber, St. James Park, London, 1905

Bessie Potter Vonnoh, Water Lilies, 1913

Sculptor Bessie Potter Vonnoh switched from bronzes of mothers and children to large garden sculptures and fountains to meet the demand of art consumers and gardeners.  The model for this painting was the daughter of Frank Vincent DuMond.

Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, Joy of the Waters, 1920

I love these two sculptures and I've developed a bit of an obsession since seeing the exhibition.

Anna Lea Merritt, An Artist's Garden, 1908

An Artist's Garden is one of my favorites from the exhibition.  Anna Lea Merritt was a writer and painter and an expert on artistic gardening.  Merritt believed that being a gardener made one a better artist and referred to her garden as a teacher and an outdoor studio.

John LaFarge, Hollyhocks and Morning Glories, 1884

The exhibit also had a few stained glass pieces.  The piece above was done by John LaFarge.  He embraced the style of the Impressionists and found a way to express himself using glass.

Theodore van Soelen, Summer Morning, 1915

Daniel Garber, Sun in Summer, 1919

Harry L. Hoffman, Childe Hassam's Studio, 1909

Another favorite of mine, Childe Hassam's Studio, by Henry L. Hoffman.  Miss Florence allowed the artists to take over various old buildings on the property and use them as studios.

Childe Hassam, Summer Evening, 1886

Clark Voorhees, My Garden, 1914

Philip Leslie Hale, The Crimson Rambler, 1908

The Crimson Rambler by Philip Leslie Hale was my absolute favorite of the show and I'm not the only one who loved it as the museum used the painting for their publicity materials.  The crimson rambler was imported from Japan to the United States in 1894.  According to the article next to the painting, the blooms here are bigger than the flowers actually grow, possibly suggesting that Hale idealized the flowers as well as the woman in the painting.

William Chadwick, On the Piazza, 1908

On the Piazza shows Nan Greacen on the side porch of the Griswold boardinghouse.  The point was made several times in the exhibition and even in the house tour that very few women artists were welcomed into the art colony, as women were preferred to be models and muses.

Jane Peterson, Spring Bouquet, 1912

Louis Comfort Tiffany, Peony Window Panel, 1908-12

This peony window by Louis Comfort Tiffany was made by Tiffany Studios for the Richard Beatty Mellon residence in Pittsburgh, PA and is part of a larger 10 panel landscape.  I would love to see the whole thing as you know peonies are my favorite flower.

These six flowers were popular in American gardens in the late nineteenth century and appeared frequently in art work from that time. The rose, phlox, poppy, iris, peony and hollyhock were used in informal gardens in suburban and country homes.  In my opinion these flowers are still popular with artists including myself.

There were many more paintings in this incredible show.  As I said, it was one of the best exhibits I've seen in some time.  And I must give a shout out to the front desk staff at the museum.  They could not have been nicer or more helpful.

Art and flowers are two of my favorite things so it was great to see a show devoted to both.

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