96 Lyme Street
Old Lyme, CT 06371
The Artist in the Connecticut Landscape marks the completion of an expansive online project to contribute over 400 digital images to Connecticut History Online (CTHistoryOnline.org), a decade-old collaborative digital library of over 15,000 drawings, prints, and photographs depicting historic images of Connecticut. The exhibition will draw from the collections of the ten partner institutions to present highlights that include some of the most renowned depictions of Connecticut from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. The paintings are from the collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, the Connecticut State Library, the Florence Griswold Museum, the Lyman Allyn Museum, the Mattatuck Museum, the Mystic Arts Center, Mystic Seaport, the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Slater Memorial Museum, and the Wadsworth Atheneum.
Over the past two centuries, Connecticut’s artists have shaped the history of American landscape painting. In the eighteenth century, landscapes often appeared within portraits, a glimpse out a window that signified the source of the sitter’s livelihood. Artists such as the portraitist Ralph Earl executed some of the earliest pure landscape paintings, drawing from the tradition of house portraits to celebrate the state’s pastoral charms. With a topographical eye, professional and folk painters documented the region’s terrain and landmarks, both natural and man-made. Their works paint a portrait of a region of small farms, village greens, and coastal inlets. Hudson River School artists opened Americans’ eyes to the symbolic power of landscape, a new chapter in the appreciation of the genre. Thomas Cole brought a Romantic appreciation for nature to his depiction of the sweeping vistas from Talcott Mountain, location of Monte Video, the estate of his patron Daniel Wadsworth. Cole’s pupil Frederic Edwin Church made Americans aware of their history through his selection of landscapes linked to Connecticut’s past as the subjects of paintings such as The Charter Oak at Hartford. As the state’s economy shifted from farming toward industry over the course of the nineteenth century, landscape painters marked the entry of factories and railroads into the countryside.