On our first full day in Connecticut, we took a short road trip to the historic town of Old Lyme, once home to a thriving artist colony.
Florence Griswold was the daughter of a sea captain, and maintained the family home by letting out rooms to boarders. She was approached at one point by a New York artist, looking for a place for artist’s to gather. The home-turned-boarding-house became a retreat for a large group of Impressionist painters.
The artist’s were influenced by the Impressionists in France, and loved the rural countryside for their subject matter. They enlivened the old house with banter, games and laughter. Their easels became a regular part of the view. They held classes on the grounds, drawing in other aspiring artists; they sold their works in shows and sales that brought collectors from all over the country.
The house itself is now a beautifully restored and appointed museum. The door panels still feature paintings done by the residents, in thanks to Miss Griswold. The furnishings, though not all original, have been carefully chosen for the style of the era. Period paintings grace the walls.
The grounds are park-like, with a Monet-inspired garden, and paths leading from one area of interest to another. Old trees provide beauty and shade, and a winding river runs through the grounds. Parking for visitors was set back away from the old home, to preserve the historic look.
Behind the museum is a long, low, white building that is an art gallery. Though there are changing exhibits of various art styles, many rooms are dedicated to Impressionist works done in the period that the artist’s colony was active. Often the paintings were done while on retreat at the Griswold house. Every work of art was accompanied by a card giving detailed information about it.
I don’t know what was most inspiring. It was wonderful to see so much good work in a gallery setting. I loved getting a sense of the artist’s lives and interactions. Being with my family, who were all observant, interested and enthusiastic, was, I think, the best of all!