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Three New Exhibitions at Florence Griswold Museum Showcase the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection


In response to public demand to view works from the recently acquired Hartford Steam Boiler Collection, the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut presents three new exhibitions that feature paintings and works on paper from the Collection. "White, Green, and Gold: The Seasons in American Landscape Painting" groups 47 works thematically around nature's cycle. "A Corner in an Etcher's Studio" highlights twenty etchings and drypoints by J. Alden Weir, Philip Kappel, and Kerr Eby. A companion exhibition, "A Haven for Painters: The Art Colony at Old Lyme," in the Griswold House offers still more selections from the Collection while incorporating other new acquisitions and works from the Museum's original holdings. Much of the artwork in these exhibitions will be on public view for the first time

In 2001, The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company donated its entire collection of 190 American paintings, sculptures, and prints to the Florence Griswold Museum. The first exhibition based on the gift, The American Artist in Connecticut, inaugurated the Krieble Gallery in 2002 and included 82 works from the Collection. By showcasing the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection in these three exhibitions, the Museum is living up to its responsibility to make it available on an on-going basis. "We are committed to fully realizing the collection's potential," notes Jeff Andersen, Museum Director. "These exhibitions are designed to provide imaginative ways of looking at this varied collection."

Richard H. Booth, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hartford Steam Boiler, praised the Museum for its commitment in showing the collection. "These scenes represent Connecticut's artistic legacy and they are now available to all Connecticut residents," he said. "The Florence Griswold Museum is increasingly being recognized as a destination not only for Connecticut citizens, but also for out-of-state visitors to enjoy our rich artistic heritage and resources."

"White, Green, and Gold" and "A Corner in an Etcher's Studio" are on view in the Krieble Gallery and are sponsored by The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company.


White, Green, and Gold: The Seasons in American Landscape Painting

January 17 - June 6 in the Museum's Krieble Gallery


Artists throughout time have been inspired by nature's transitions. From allegorical representations intended to instruct to simple moments of splendor captured on canvas, the nineteenth and early twentieth-century paintings in this exhibition demonstrate how cultural and aesthetic attitudes toward the seasons have changed. (right: Ernest Lawson, " Connecticut Landscape," c. 1902-04, oil in canvas, 24 1/8 x 24 1/8 inches, Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company)

In our early, agrarian society, seasons were associated with the cycle of life. Spring was identified with birth or re-birth, summer with growth, autumn with maturity or decay, and winter with death. As American life became more urban-centered, the seasons took on new meaning. Whereas early representations of winter such as "Seven Miles to Farmington" by George Durrie were picturesque and narrative in subject matter, later images like Leon Dabo's "Winter Evening" present tranquil scenes far from the bustle of the modern city.

A shift in the portrayal of the seasons demonstrates the delicate balance between mankind and nature. Early 19th century artists viewed the renewal of life, symbolized by spring, as a sign of divine intervention. Later in the century, artists turned their attention away from the heavenly world and began to interpret nature as the source of secular wisdom. Thomas Cole's "Study for A Wild Scene," 1831, and Ernest Lawson's "Connecticut Landscape," c. 1902-04, reveal this contrast. Cole infused his wilderness landscape with religious undertones. It is a study for the first in a series of allegorical depictions of civilization from birth, to its rise to grandeur, fall from grace, and inevitable extinction. In this early morning scene we see the dawning or "spring" of mankind, full of hope and promise. Seventy years later, Lawson takes a more literal approach in suggesting the effects of growth and suburbanization on the rural Connecticut landscape. A pastoral scene of a gentle stream lined with trees is interrupted by the appearance of buildings. Is the artist cautioning us that man's encroachment on even the most serene setting is inevitable?

Whether the paintings attempt to reconcile our place in the world or simply pay tribute to its wonders, all bring nature's many moods to canvas.


"A Corner in an Etcher's Studio": American Etchings from the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection

January 17 through May 30, 2004 in the Museum's Krieble Gallery


An 1888 painting by Charles Adams Platt (1861-1933) provides the title for this exhibition. Platt was one of the leaders of the American painter-etcher movement of the 1870s, which sought to establish etching as a means of artistic expression, rather than a method of art reproduction. The painting, an interior view of Platt's Paris studio, reveals the tools of the etcher's trade and provides a window into the process itself. The painting is a point of departure for the study of twenty etchings and drypoints by J. Alden Weir (1852-1919), Philip Kappel (1901-1981), and Kerr Eby (1889-1946). Paintings and a pastel by Weir are also included in the exhibition (left: J. Alden Weir, "Gyp and the Gipsy," 1890, drypoint on paper, 7 3/16 x 5 15/16 inches, Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company)

This is the first time this group of prints has been exhibited at the Florence Griswold Museum. An etching press and tools used by the American Impressionist Everett Warner (1877-1963) will also be on view to educate visitors on the process behind etching. Etchings by Warner, Childe Hassam (1859-1935), and other artists complete this exhibition.


A Haven for Painters: The Art Colony at Old Lyme

January 10, 2004 through January 2, 2005 in the Griswold House


During the first quarter of the twentieth century, Old Lyme was the center of a leading Impressionist art colony. Artists from all across the country flocked to Old Lyme to paint an American landscape steeped in historic associations and nostalgia. This exhibition presents paintings from the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection, new Museum acquisitions, rarely viewed works, photographs, and archival material to cover a variety of themes and stylistic traditions represented by the artists of the colony and their subjects. It is the first exhibition to fully incorporate the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection with the Museum's distinguished holdings of American art. (right: Guy C. Wiggins, "A February Storm in New York," 1919, oil on canvas, Florence Griswold Museum)

One highlight of the exhibition is Harry Hoffman's "A Mood of Spring," c. 1913. The painting depicts Harding Farm on Sill Lane in Old Lyme, the view from Hoffman's studio window. It garnered Hoffman the 1915 Gold Medal of Award from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The painting, catalogue for the Exposition, certificate of award, and the gold medal were given to the Florence Griswold Museum in 2003 by the artist's daughter-in-law, Margaret Hoffman. It is the first time that any of the items have been on view.


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