Lost Landscape Revealed: Childe Hassam and The Red Mill, Cos Cob
January 16 – March 28, 2021
Member Preview Days: Wednesday – Friday, January 13-15
In August 2020 the Greenwich Historical Society made a significant addition to its collection of Cos Cob art colony paintings with the acquisition of the The Red Mill, Cos Cob by American Impressionist painter F. Childe Hassam. The Red Mill, Cos Cob presents a view across the Cos Cob Harbor toward the Palmer & Duff shipyard, once located on a peninsula in the Mianus River opposite the Holley boarding house – now the Bush-Holley House.
Painted during Hassam’s first visit to the Holley House in the autumn of 1896, the canvas has been in private hands since the artist’s death in 1935 and rarely exhibited. It will be debuted to the public in an intimate focus exhibition opening at the Greenwich Historical Society in January 2021.
Drawing from the Historical Society’s collections the exhibition will offer a glimpse into the past, exploring how Hassam and fellow artists captured the fleeting character of Cos Cob’s Lower Landing in the nineteenth century. Although the shipyard and its sloops and schooners have disappeared from the landscape, through paintings, photographs and artifacts this one-time busy mercantile district will be brought to life.
Image: Childe Hassam, The Red Mill, Cos Cob, 1896. Oil on canvas.
Greenwich Historical Society, Museum Purchase with funds from Susan G. and James T. Larkin, Sally and Larry Lawrence, Mr. and Mrs. Peter L. Malkin, Debbie and Russ Reynolds, Reba and Dave Williams and Lily Downing and David Yudain
Greenwich Gardens & Landscapes, Past & Present
April 28, 2021 – September 5, 2021
Member Preview: Tuesday April 27, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
In spring 2021 the Greenwich Historical Society will celebrate the fruitful and fascinating history of gardens in Greenwich and the people who designed, tended and delighted in them. From splendid landscapes created for scions of industry who commissioned Greenwich’s Great Estates, to humble and hand-planted backyard vegetable gardens, the impulse to cultivate land for beauty, pleasure and utility has a grand and vibrant tradition in Greenwich.
Visitors will encounter rarely seen architectural and landscape drawings and stunning photographs of some of Greenwich’s finest gardens designed by pioneers of American landscape design including Frederick Law Olmsted, Warren Henry Manning, Marian Cruger Coffin, H. T. Patterson, Ellen Biddle Shipman, and others.
Mining the collections of the Historical Society, the show will also explore the vital role gardens and horticulture played in the social fabric of the town. Charting Greenwich’s farming roots in the 18th and early-19th centuries, and incorporating stories of the town’s many garden clubs, the exhibition will present a fuller picture of gardens in Greenwich, and how they affected the health and livelihoods of many.
The artists who regularly boarded at the Holley House (now the Bush-Holley House) from the 1890s to the 1920s reveled in the artistic possibilities of painting and drawing the Holley family’s gardens. The Holleys were devoted gardeners and amateur naturalists, and Constant Holley MacRae an accomplished pioneer in floral design. In keeping with this legacy, the exhibition will also feature paintings and drawings in the American Impressionist and early Modernist traditions, exquisite dried botanical specimens, hand-carved eccentric garden furniture and unique early twentieth-century studio ceramic vessels by area potter Leon Gambetta Volkmar, commonly used by Constant MacRae in her floral arrangements.
Walter A. Fitch (1861-1910) View of the Garden, ca, 1900. Pastel on paper.
Greenwich Historical Society, Gift of Ruth Fitch Mason, 1958.04.02
Life and Art:
The Greenwich Paintings of John Henry Twachtman
October 6, 2021 – January 9, 2022
Member Preview: Tuesday October 5, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Funded in part by Henry Luce Foundation’s American Art Program and the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.
An exhibition of 25 paintings will bring viewers into an intimate relationship with the place that American Impressionist John Henry Twachtman (1853-1902), one of the most prominent figures in late nineteenth century American art, loved best, the home and land in Greenwich, Conn., where he resided from 1890 – 1899. Together with the catalog, it will enable viewers to consider the relationship between the artist and his subject matter, and his life and creative output, while setting his Greenwich work in the context of American Impressionism and shedding new light on the movement.
It will be the inaugural art exhibition in the Frank Family Foundation located in the new 9,900 square foot museum and library building at the Greenwich Historical Society, which opened to great fanfare in October 2018. It is especially appropriate that Twachtman be the subject given the artist’s residency in Greenwich and his central role in the Cos Cob art colony, where he taught summer classes to over 100 students between 1890 and 1899.
This is the first close exploration of Twachtman’s architectural work and landscaping in relation to his Greenwich art, using new documentation, historical evidence, and a physical examination of the home and property.
The project is strategically important to Greenwich Historical Society, owner of the former Holley boarding house (known today as Bush-Holley House) in which Twachtman painted and conducted summer art classes, sometimes in collaboration with J. Alden Weir. The Bush-Holley House is now a National Historic Landmark and is restored and open to the public. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, Greenwich Historical Society seeks to augment its permanent collection on American Impressionist artists of the Cos Cob art colony to feature paintings by Twachtman in its new Permanent Collections Gallery.
Image credit: John Henry Twachtman, My House, ca. 1899. Oil on canvas. Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of the Artist, 1887.1