American Art · Historic Places

Miss Florence’s Painted Dining Room

Florence Griswold Painted Dining Room
Some of the paintings in the dining room at the Florence Griswold House in Old Lyme, CT. Photo by A Scholarly Skater.

I recently visited the Florence Griswold Museum – the Connecticut boardinghouse where American Impressionists of the Old Lyme Art Colony stayed and worked during summers in the early-20th century. And I saw the most incredible thing there – an entire room with wall paintings by some of my favorite American artists!

Matilda Browne, Bucolic Landscape, 1905.
Matilda Browne, Bucolic Landscape, 1905. Painted on a door at the Florence Griswold House, Old Lyme, CT. Photo by A Scholarly Skater.

I’m talking about the dining room, which has panels and doors painted by artists like Childe Hassam and Willard Metcalf. There are also a few painted doors elsewhere in the house. Apparently, there was some European tradition that artists would paint on the doors of homes they had stayed in. At Old Lyme, the artists went a step further and painted on most of the available surfaces in the dining room, not just the doors. It seems that they meant this as a gift to their hostess, Florence Griswold, since they were very fond of her.

Florence Griswold Painted Dining Room Metcalf
Willard Metcalf, Maine Coast (top), Birches (lower left), Chrysanthemums (lower right), 1907-8. Painted on the dining room wall at the Florence Griswold House in Old Lyme, CT. Photo by A Scholarly Skater.

This dining room must be one of the most significant collections of American Impressionism anywhere. It’s certainly the most unique and special. Why hadn’t I ever heard about this before? It was a surprising and delightful little room to visit. Many of the scenes are landscapes, but there are also figural paintings, still lives, animal scenes featuring sheep and cows, and all sorts of other things. A frieze over the fireplace is a fun montage of colony members. The subjects and styles are familiar to American Impressionism, but the effect is quite different on the dark wood of the dining room panels rather than on the usual pale canvas.

You can learn more about Florence Griswold and why she was awesome in my article for DailyArt Magazine.

One thought on “Miss Florence’s Painted Dining Room

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.