Beautiful Work: The Art of Greenwich Gardens and Landscapes
May 1 – September 5, 2021
Member Preview Days: Wednesday April 28, Thursday April 29 and Friday April 30
Cultivated for generations by farmers and agricultural laborers, in the closing years of the 19th century many of Greenwich’s planting fields and wood lots were transformed into extravagantly designed gardens by wealthy New Yorkers seeking “The Country Life” away from the city. Looking to Europe for inspiration, Greenwich estate owners commissioned opulent English, Italian and French-inspired garden designs from titans of American landscape design, among them the Olmsted Brothers, Marian Cruger Coffin, Warren Manning, Byrant Fleming and Ellen Biddle Shipman.
Meanwhile, a reawakening interest in the Colonial Revival, a proliferation of popular magazines devoted to gardening, and abounding interest in gardening and horticultural societies led to the cultivation of casually exuberant backyard gardens. In Cos Cob, the Holley family’s flower and vegetable gardens were a fixture of the landscape and provided food and flowers for the table where boarding artists, writers and other cultural figures who made up the Cos Cob art colony gathered.
The Greenwich Historical Society’s museum and archival collections, a rich source for sumptuous landscape design drawings from estate gardens, books and other publications on gardening and horticulture, and artworks and artifacts inspired by the garden, forms the centerpiece of this upcoming exhibition celebrating the ambition, industry, and joyful delight found in Greenwich gardens. The exhibition will be accompanied by outdoor adult and family programs set amid our historic garden museum site, including a series of Tavern Markets and summer Concerts on the Lawn.
Walter A. Fitch (1861-1910) View of the Garden, ca, 1900. Pastel on paper. Greenwich Historical Society, Gift of Ruth Fitch Mason.
Life and Art:
The Greenwich Paintings of John Henry Twachtman
October 6, 2021 – January 9, 2022
Funded in part by Henry Luce Foundation’s American Art Program and the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.
From the beginning of his career, John Henry Twachtman (1853–1902) was committed to creating landscape paintings in the Realist tradition, seeking inspiration from his immediate observations, at home in America and on trips to Europe. However, he struggled with the realization that nature often did not provide a sense of completeness he believed to be essential to art. Thus, he derived his greatest artistic satisfaction during the years he lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, from 1890 to 1899, when he often painted his own home and its surrounding landscape, a setting he was able to shape himself.
This exhibition, the first close exploration of Twachtman’s architectural and landscape design work in relation to his Greenwich art, uses new documentation and historical evidence from Twachtman’s Greenwich house, which still stands, to definitively date his Greenwich paintings. Consisting of paintings and works on paper by Twachtman and his contemporaries and friends, artists Theodore Robinson and Robert Reid, loaned from museum and private collections across the nation, the show will bring visitors into an intimate relationship with the artist and the place he called home.
Image credit: John Henry Twachtman, September Sunshine, ca. 1892-1894. Oil on canvas. 25 x 30 inches. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas