The American Artist in Connecticut:
The Legacy of the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection

Introduction
Portraiture
Discovering the Connecticut Landscape
Still Life & Genre
Connecticut & American Impressionism
The Cos Cob Art Colony
Mystic, Silvermine, & Beyond
The Art Colony at Old Lyme

About The Hartford Steam Boiler Collection

Home to Florence Griswold Museum


The Museum is grateful to The Starr Foundation & the Connecticut Humanities Council for their generous support of this exhibition.

This on-line exhibit was made possible by the Connecticut Humanities Council.

Introduction to the Exhibition

The American Artist in Connecticut
The Legacy of the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection



Childe Hassam, Isle of Shoals


The paintings and sculptures in this exhibition are by artists who lived and worked in Connecticut from the late Colonial period to the early 20th century. Connecticut has a distinguished artistic heritage, attributable in part to its location between the great cultural centers of Boston and especially New York. In many ways, its art has paralleled the course of American art, but artists have also responded specifically to Connecticut’s spirit of independence, its Yankee heritage, and the character of its landscape. Their visions have helped shape an identity of New England that lingers in the American mind.


Portraits came first in early America, but those in Connecticut were plainer than most, because sitters insisted. Landscapists bypassed Connecticut so long as romantic, grandiose views were the norm but came eagerly when rapid industrialization evoked sweet memories of America’s agricultural past. At the end of the 19th century, the sunny art of American Impressionism was pioneered in Connecticut. Artists came by the score to form art colonies, which flourished for nearly three decades. This exhibition takes Connecticut’s art history only that far, but artists in the state moved on to Modernism, Social Realism, and other newer modes.

The paintings on view are a gift to the Florence Griswold Museum from The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. Over the course of two decades, this leading equipment breakdown insurer assembled 190 premier works of art by artists with Connecticut connections. In a magnificent act of corporate philanthropy, the company recently presented the collection to the Florence Griswold Museum – and thus to Connecticut and the nation. Less than half the collection can be exhibited now, but the entire collection of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper will inspire further exploration into the role of the American artist in Connecticut.