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Country Road in Summer

William Chadwick (1879 – 1962)

1941_20_A

William Chadwick’s friend Harry Hoffman recalled that Chadwick had “dibs” on this panel. The dining room panels are of various sizes and shapes, so perhaps Chadwick already had a vertical landscape in mind.

A figural and portrait painter when he came to Old Lyme in 1902, Chadwick soon began painting landscapes – tonal at first, then impressionistic, like this country scene, with an air of realism tempered by pastel colors, soft-edges, parallel curves, and sinuous tree trunks. Note the variety of brushstrokes Chadwick used here, from the verticals that form the foliage of the trees, to the patches of soft color that mimic the look of watercolor, to dibs and dabs of various kinds to suggest a stone wall or bushes. Colors are as limited as those a Tonalist might use, but these are bright and as sweet as confectionary.

William Chadwick’s friend Harry Hoffman recalled that Chadwick had “dibs” on this panel. The dining room panels are of various sizes and shapes, so perhaps Chadwick already had a vertical landscape in mind. A figural and portrait painter when he came to Old Lyme in 1902, Chadwick soon began painting landscapes – tonal at first, then impressionistic, like this country scene, with an air of realism tempered by pastel colors, soft-edges, parallel curves, and sinuous tree trunks. Note the variety of brushstrokes Chadwick used here, from the verticals that form the foliage of the trees, to the patches of soft color that mimic the look of watercolor, to dibs and dabs of various kinds to suggest a stone wall or bushes. Colors are as limited as those a Tonalist might use, but these are bright and as sweet as confectionary.

Chadwick noted that this road is on Smith’s Neck, a stretch of Old Lyme marshland on the peninsula where the Black Hall and Duck Rivers meet at Long Island Sound. A winding country road is often seen in paintings by the American Impressionists, who, like their Hudson River School predecessors, seemed fond of the metaphor of life as a road with surprising turns. In Old Lyme at the turn of the 20th century, the artists were surely aware that automobiles would soon make unpaved country roads like this a thing of the past.

Chadwick would be noted for his paintings that captured the essence of the Lyme Art Colony such as his iconic On the Piazza of a woman lost in reverie on the side porch of the boardinghouse. He also used Miss Florence to model for him and captured her at rest in her parlor and at play upon the piano in Melodies.

When Chadwick, who was born in England and grew up in Holyoke, Massachusetts, first came to the Griswold House, he was still his early 20s and a student at the Art Students League in New York. He returned each summer, bought a home in Old Lyme in 1915, and lived a long life there. Although he never achieved great commercial success, he was well respected by his fellows at Old Lyme. So it is a bit odd that he did not paint a dining room panel until 1918 or later. This particular panel became available only after a Californian, Robert Fullonton, painted it, then left the Griswold House without paying his bill. The disgusted art colonists turned his painting to the wall and at some point invited Chadwick to paint the other side.