Saybrook and Old Lyme





lyme7I called the Saybrook Historical Society this morning. They have an illustration of the home of the seven Hart sisters on the site cover. There was an art colony in Old Lyme which explains why Clark Hambley moved there. The American Impressionists flocked to the town where young men courted the most beautiful young women in America.

Virginia owns an oil painting her father did of an old boat yard in Lyme. We had talked about getting married, and having children when we first met. We did not understand that we were Blue Bloods – of ‘The Blood’! If you believe in the Bible, then you have to believe God has ordained the union of certain people for a divine reason. Most Republicans believe God ordained certain men to come to America and found a new Nation. Most of these men got married and sired children who would do great things.

When the two artists, Christine Rosamond married Garth Benton formed a better union, the blood of American Impressionists, and the American Regionalists, flowed together. Here is America’s Genetic Pallet, a BRAND that is the acme of American History and Culture. This is what Walt Disney did. Walt took early American History and bottled it so every kid who hates history, wants more then a sip. I can’t get my family and my daughter to understand ROSAMOND is a BRAND NAME, and our family history is America’s History.

That’s a photo of William Hart’s house. Millions of Americans with real money are trying to replicate the American Lifesytle that OUR KINDRED made.

Royal Rosamond was a Regionalist Writer who knew he was an All American.

Jon Presco

Located next to the First Congregational Church in Old Saybrook is the 1767 house of General William Hart, which is now the headquarters of the Old Saybrook Historical Society. Hart was a merchant engaged in the West Indies trade with his brother, Joseph. During the Revolutionary War, he outfitted privateers and led the First Regiment of Connecticut Light Horse Militia to Danbury, when that town was raided by the British under Brig. Gen. William Tryon in 1777.

Our Mission
The mission of the Old Lyme Historical Society, Incorporated, is to collect, preserve, and interpret the rich history of Old Lyme, Connecticut and its environs for the benefit of residents and visitors. Cultural, economic, social, and architectural aspects of life in Old Lyme from the earliest settlements to the present will be shared with the public through the internet, exhibits, walking tours, and original publications.

The Big Picture

Initially, Lyme was part of the Saybrook (“Saye-Brooke”) settlement centered on the west bank of the mouth of the Connecticut River. It was established by the Earl of Warwick in 1631, occupied in 1635, and settled and named in 1636. The lands on the east bank of the river, named after Lyme Regis in England, were formally set off from the parent Saybrook colony on February 13, 1665, in a document called “The Loving Parting.” The Connecticut General Court named the new plantation “Lyme” on May 9, 1667. Lyme set off the Town of East Lyme in 1839 and, in 1854-1855, further created the two towns of Old Lyme (initially called “South” Lyme), on the shoreline at the mouth of the river, and Lyme, inland on the river opposite Essex and Deep River. Beginning in the late 1800’s, Old Lyme became famous for its flourishing artists’ community, centered on the emerging “American Impressionism” movement. The present town covers 27 square miles. The year-round population is approximately 7,500, with a summertime increase in six historic “beach colonies” to about 12,000.

The confidence and polish of American Impressionists at the turn of the 20th century make it all the more regrettable that so few people are prepared to give their art its proper due, let alone collect it. That is what is so interesting and unusual about “Lyme in Mind: The Clement C. Moore Collection,” an exhibition at the Florence Griswold Museum celebrating a significant collection of American Impressionist works focused on Old Lyme that Mr. Moore has promised to the museum.

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Times Topics: Connecticut Arts | Connecticut Arts Listings
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Collection of Clement C. Moore
“The White Church, Newport,” by Childe Hassam.
Mr. Moore, a successful commercial real estate investor and longtime museum trustee, began collecting American Impressionist paintings in the mid-1980s, with his wife, Elizabeth, when they lived in Stonington. On weekends, they liked to explore the woods and beaches of southeastern Connecticut and were soon drawn to landscape paintings of the area, especially those in which the artist sought to capture the flavor and feeling of New England.

One of their first purchases was an Old Lyme subject, Childe Hassam’s “Connecticut Hunting Scene” (1904), a small, compact image of an autumnal landscape in which a man with a gun stands, seemingly dissolving into his surroundings, while a companion dog darts across a tree-studded hillside in pursuit of some invisible prey. Nature is the real subject of this picture, in which the artist’s attention is focused on the trees and the ground, which is thickly carpeted with fallen leaves.

Hassam’s hunting scene is among the first works you see as you enter the show, which consists of 41 paintings in the museum’s main galleries. Hanging nearby is another of the couple’s early purchases, “The Lawn” (circa 1950), a simple, sweet image of a lawn skirted by trees by Frank Vincent DuMond. At first glance it may seem boring, but prolonged looking reveals beguiling details, including elaborate shadows, subtle light shifts and tonal variations.

The rest of the works are grouped loosely according to themes, beginning with pictures by artists who were associated with the Old Lyme art colony, once based here, when it was Florence Griswold’s boardinghouse, in Old Lyme. Among them is William Chadwick, an idiosyncratic painter who moved permanently to the colony at Old Lyme around 1915. His studio, a small shed, still stands on the grounds of the museum.

Edmund W. Greacen and Harry L. Hoffman were also associated with the Old Lyme colony. The show contains fine works by each of them, especially Greacen, an immensely talented artist who returned to the United States in 1909 after spending two years living close to Claude Monet’s famous gardens at Giverny. “Miss Florence’s Garden” (1914), which he painted at the boardinghouse, and his “Bridge at Old Lyme” (1910) are among the show’s highlights.

The rickety old bow bridge that once spanned the Lieutenant River not far from the boardinghouse provided a popular source of inspiration, not only for Greacen, but for other members of the Old Lyme art colony. It is the subject of a handful of paintings in this show, including Greacen’s “Bridge at Old Lyme” and Gifford Beal’s “The Old Bow Bridge” (circa 1903 to 1904), which is inscribed at the bottom right, “To my friend Harry,” in reference to Hoffman, a fellow colonist.

Comparing Greacen and Beal’s depictions of the same subject offers some insight into the changes taking place in American art at the time. Beal’s work shows an obvious preference for a more academic style, in which the details are labored over. By contrast, Greacen embraces an impressionistic technique in which the artist envelops the scenery in a trademark haze, the background dissolving into the distance. One artist favors accuracy, the other emotion.

The quasi-thematic arrangement of works begins to break down a little at this point, reflecting the limits of the collection. But there are so many interesting pictures that it doesn’t really matter. I was drawn to Edward Rook’s undated “Sea Breaking on a Ledge, Monhegan Island, Maine,” an experimental marine study in which the artist abstracts the rocky shore and swirling sea. It is the most modern painting in the exhibition, hinting at the coming demise of Impressionism.

Hunting scenes fill out the final room, along with more landscapes and a few seascapes by the same artists. Hassam’s “White Church, Newport” (1901) instantly stands out here, as much for its beauty as the artist’s curious vantage point. Instead of depicting the church from the front, emphasizing its stately facade and grandeur, he paints the rear view. Partially obscured by intervening houses, gardens and fences, the church seems enmeshed in the town.

Not everything in the show is first rate, nor are all the pictures the best examples of the work of each of the artists. But over all, this collection will make a welcome addition to the museum’s already substantial holdings of American Impressionism, while furthering its core mission to tell the story of the colony of artists who gathered a century ago at Old Lyme.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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