Florence Ann Griswold (December 25, 1850 – December 6, 1937) was a resident of Old Lyme, Connecticut, United States who became the nucleus of the "Old Lyme Art Colony" in the early 20th century. Her home has since been made into the Florence Griswold Museum, a National Historic Landmark.
Life and work
Florence Griswold was the youngest daughter of ship captain Robert Harper Griswold. Along with her mother and two sisters, she opened the Griswold Home School for girls in 1878 and taught there for 14 years. Her father, mother, and sister Louise died, leaving Florence and her sister Adele in a precarious financial position. They made ends meet by taking in boarders.
In 1899, artist Henry Ward Ranger, recently returned from Europe and inspired by the example of the French Barbizon artists, rented a room from Griswold (who is still affectionately referred to as 'Miss Florence' in Old Lyme) and encouraged his acquaintances to do likewise. Childe Hassam arrived in 1903; he, in turn, invited Willard Metcalf, who arrived in 1905. Among the women artists who stayed and painted at Miss Florence's were Matilda Browne and sisters Lydia and Breta Longacre. Many other American Impressionist painters summered at the colony, in Griswold's house, among them Wilson Irvine, who arrived in 1914. Also, Edward Charles Volkert who became known as "America's cattle painter", and William Henry Howe, another cattle painter, who there was referred to as "Uncle" because of his age. Ellen Axson Wilson, first wife of president Woodrow Wilson, came as an art student and became friends with Griswold; in 1914 Griswold attended the wedding of Presidential daughter Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre. Many American impressionist paintings of the era are of subjects in and around the Griswold house.
Griswold became the first manager of the Lyme Art Association's gallery when it opened in 1921. Edward Charles Volkert was the first Secretary of the Association.
Florence Griswold Museum
The Florence Griswold House became the Florence Griswold Museum, exhibiting both art and historical material. The house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993. In July 2007 the building reopened after a 14-month restoration project.
The museum features a collection of American art and history, including fine art, sculpture, works on paper, artist's studio material, toys and dolls, ceramics, furniture, textiles, decorative arts and historic artifacts, and the Lyme Historical Society archives.
The museum is located at 96 Lyme Street in Old Lyme, CT, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 to 5, Sunday from 1 to 5.
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