OLD LYME ARTQUEST PLANNED: AMERICA’S TONALISTS

Tonalism Will Howe Foote Florence Griswold House Old Lyme CT

FLORENCE GRISWOLD HOUSE by Tonalist WILL HOWE FOOTE

Recently, a poet friend passed the Ole Lyme (CT) exit on her way to Provincetown for their legendary writers’ workshop.  “I want to see the Florence Griswold Museum,” she said to herself, “… maybe, on the way back.”  But her Self corrected her Self: “NO, I want to see it with Carolyn!”  How Betty knew that I have longed to see this center of the Old Lyme Art Colony, –this boarding house of Miss Griswold, which housed some of America’s major tonalist, and later impressionist, artists–, who painted the very walls and doors and panels with Old Lyme scenes, I have no idea.  But she made inquiries, has rented us lodging through AirBNB, and she will even drive!

Moonglow Tonalist Image from Internet no artist credit

Tonalist Image, Moonglow, From Internet, No Attribution

My role, a favorite, is  research.  Tonalism, an exceptional delicate school of art, evolved in and around Old Lyme in this country.  A town of white steeples and picket fences, tousled gardens, and far-stretching meadows toward the sea–, one could say, if Tonalism hadn’t existed, Old Lyme would have had to invent it.  As I combed the Internet, I found myself transported from “mists and mellow fruitfulness”, from morning fogs and clouds tip-tilted by sunsets, to wifty views of Miss Florence’s home by my relative, Will Howe Foote.

Brent Cotton Nightfall on the Pond from Internet

Brent Cotton’s “Nightfall”

At D&R Greenway Land Trust, I am Curator of the Olivia Rainbow Gallery, among many other roles.  I realize, for the first time, that I am also Curator of the N:JWILDBEAUTY Gallery.

Marina with Misty Mt. from Internet no artist

Marina with Mountain from Internet, No Attribution

Think back to Monet’s “Impression, Soleil Levant”, from which the movement was named to which some Tonalists would evolve.  “Impression, Sun Rising” could be the name of this tonal masterpiece:

Tonalist Matthew Cutter Rising Sun from Internet

Tonalist Matthew Cutter’s “Rising Sun”

Betty and I, in the museums of Old Lyme, will be surrounded by the peace, tranquility and luminosity  we so often seek in nature.

4-The-Blue-Cup-Tonalism-painter-Joseph-DeCamp

“The Blue Cup” by Tonalist Joseph de Camp

Tonalists were very effective with portraits.  Perhaps no one did a better job of winter scenes, at least in this country.  Sisley and Pissarro are no slouches when it comes to snow, of course, especially in and around Auvers-sur-Oise, northwest of Paris.  Our Tonalists made the most of the very American New England landscape.

John Henry Twachtman Winter Landscape with-Barn

John Henry Twachtman’s Winter

It is not yet clear to me whether this is the British attitude, or pure reality, that Tonalism all began with Whistler, (the legendary expatriate James Abbot MacNeill Whistler).  This theory could be the confection of critics of later centuries.  This attribution may be the confection of critics of subsequent centuries…

Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea 1871 by James Abbott McNeill Whistler 1834-1903

Nocturne: Blue and Silver – Chelsea 1871 James Abbott McNeill Whistler 1834-1903

Evergreen Framed Tonalist Image Internet no artist credit

Evergreen-Framed Tonalist Landscape, no attribution

Tonalism example from Internet unattributed

Early Tonalism – Unattributed under Tonalist Images

Tonalism example unattributed from Internet

Tonalism in the Garden, Unattributed

Tonalist modern Judy Friday February Sunrise

Tonalist Modern, Judy Friday, February Sunrise

Tonalist Will Howe Foote Verdant-cape

Tonalist and Relative – Will Howe Foote: “Verdant Cape”

Tonalism Orchard in Bloom from Internet no artist no title

Tonalist Orchard in Bloom, No Attribution

A group of determined friends and relations managed to save Miss Florence’s home, during the Great Depression, when debts would have forced her to leave.  This image, by my relative Will Howe Foote, may be the most famous of her home, which is now the Museum which draws us to Old Lyme.

Will Howe Foote Summers Night probably Miss Florence Griswold on porch of her home Old Lyme Ct

Tonalist Will Howe Foote, “Summer’s Night”, reputed to be Miss Florence Griswold on the porch of her home which sheltered these legendary artists

 

 

10 thoughts on “OLD LYME ARTQUEST PLANNED: AMERICA’S TONALISTS

    • Angela, it matters so much to open these comments, as you know. The time at the computer can seem so isolate. And then we bloggers learn that we are bringing delight to others, and it’s all worthwhile. Thanks for the good wishes. It’s a couple of weeks away, but I love doing trip research! smiles c

  1. Thank you so much, as always, Ray, for reading, for commenting. Don’t you find it tragic that such beautiful work is on the Internet under “Tonalist Images”, so many without attribution? This is an area of art about which I know very little. Although, of course, I’m proud of “good old Uncle Will” (all Footes are related, back to Nathaniel-Foote-the-Settler in 1600’s in Massachusetts and Connecticut), I didn’t even realize that he fit into a school, let alone was one of the key Tonalists. Maybe his genes explain my daughters’ art successes long ago…
    Thanks for good wishes — something absolutely new, ever welcome… c

  2. Tonalists? I’d never heard of them before, but am captivated by the works you present here. A little unknown jewel of a world has been revealed to me, thanks to you, Carolyn!

    Tari

    • Tari, you are by no means alone in not knowing of the Tonalists! As much as I have yearned for the Florence Griswold Museum, and studied it in the past, I am still unfolding information. William Merritt Chase and Twachtman and Lathrop of the Bucks County Impressionists are also caught up with the Old Lyme Colony (not exactly a ‘school’, any more than the Bucks County artists were of a single educational establishment). Even though this group painted together in various key settings, and were considered Tonalists at some point in their careers, they did not remain so. Even my relative, Will Howe Foote, a legendary Tonalist, moved on to Impressionism later on. It’s thrilling to discover these facets of the jewel that is art in our midst. I’m off to the Brandywine tomorrow, and I will look at its walls with new eyes, Tonalist eyes. Thank you for caring, for writing. c

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