Florence Griswold Museum

Old Lyme, CT




Henry Ward Ranger and the Humanized Landscape


Henry Ward Ranger (1858-1916)


One hundred years ago, in 3899, the American landscape painter Henry Ward Ranger was traveling through Connecticut on a train. As he passed through Old Lyme, he exclaimed, "This is a place just waiting to be painted!" He got off the train and took a room in the boarding house of Miss Florence Griswold and invited his friends from New York to join him and paint in and around this historic town. Thus began the Lyme Art Colony, one of the best-known art colonies in America.

In honor of the Centennial of the Lyme Art Colony, the Florence Griswald Museum is exhibiting a retrospective devoted to the work of the colony's founder Henry Ward Ranger (1858-1916). Entitled Henry Ward Ranger and the Humanized Landscape, this show is on view from June 5 through September 5, 1999. Through a selection of over thirty works, drawn from private and public collections, as well as sketchbooks, watercolors, and archival photographs, the exhibition will explore and reappraise the artistic legacy of one of the nation's most influential and intriguing landscape painters.

Ranger believed New England was the oldest pastoral landscape in the world. He was a master of creating poetic woodland interiors several of which will be included in this exhibition. These paintings of old oak trees with their branches stretching across time convey a sense of the past and the mystery of nature. Other paintings depicting the harbors and coastal regions of the fishing and shipbuilding village of Noank document maritime activities and a timeless way of life.

Fusing his knowledge of European art with an interest in American subjects, Ranger created distinct landscape paintings that conveyed to his contemporaries a deep sense of history and an image of a pastoral way of life that was vanishing as America changed from an agrarian to an industrial society. Two atmospheric scenes of New York suggesting a simpler time in the city will also be seen in the exhibition.

Accompanying the exhibition is the first scholarly catalogue devoted to Ranger's paintings. Authored by Griswold Museum curator, Jack Becker, an authority on the work of Ranger and the Tonal aesthetic in American art, the catalogue presents new scholarship that situates Ranger's work within a broader context of turn-of-the-century American painting and culture. Included is an essay by conservators Lance Mayer and Gay Myers about the techniques used by Ranger. These essays present a rare intersection of writing by an art historian and conservators. The 64-page illustrated catalogue is available from the Museum Shop. Exhibitions relating to Henry Ward Ranger and the Humanized Landscape will also be on view in nearby Mystic and Noank.

After establishing the Lyme Art Colony, Ranger moved to Noank in 1905. The Noank Historical Society will exhibit archival photos of the town in a show entitled Noank in Ranger's Era opening on June 30th, 1999. Ranger became active in the Mystic Art Association where an exhibition of work by his peers entitled The Ranger Circle will be on view from June 10 through September 18, 1999. Gallery talks and walking tours will accompany these exhibitions.

Henry Ward Ranger and the Humanized Landscape is made possible in part through the generous support of the Indian Point Foundation, the Edwin J. Beinecke Foundation, The Connecticut Commission on the Arts and Pfizer Inc.

Henry Ward Ranger (1858-1916) paintings from top to bottom: Ships in Harbor, Noank, 1906, oil on canvas, 18 x 25 inches, private collection; Evening Sky, 1910, oil on canvas, 28 x 36 inches, private collection


Read more on the Florence Griswold Museum.in Resource Library Magazine


rev. 10/18/10

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