Walter Griffin, Childe Hassam and Henry Rankin Poore
(1861 – 1935) (1859 – 1935) (1859 – 1940)
One of the great pleasures and benefits of an art colony, American artists discovered when they became acquainted with some in Europe, was the opportunity to discuss and exchange artistic ideas on a daily basis and to see the stages by which colleagues created works of art. It was serious business.
This panel, however, the collaboration of three men whose distinctive styles are not generally compatible, may have been done as a lark.
Surely it was the Tonalist Henry Rankin Poore who painted the reclining cow. His images of animals were well known; a number grace his Fox Chase mural over the dining room fireplace.
Artist Harry Hoffman, 1954
This one lies not in a Dutch landscape, however, but in Old Lyme, where trees are all around as Walter Griffin found to his joy when he arrived in 1904. Griffin liked tall, thin trees with sinuous trunks and limbs, and in his hands tree leaves can seem to shimmer, partly because of his trick of shaping and modeling foliage with a brush loaded with two colors of paint. The tree at the left is surely one of his and so, probably, are the others.
Hassam brushed dashes of sunlight into this scene, most cleverly above, over, and below the body of the cow, so that they highlight the animal like a spotlight. All three artists used the “baked apple” colors that Old Lyme Tonalists like Poore and Henry Ward Ranger were fond of, but sunny highlights, vibrant greens, and lively brushwork by Griffin and Hassam transport this Tonalist cow into an Impressionist landscape.
The “clash” of two popular ways of painting in Old Lyme and in America at the turn of the 20th century may be overdone here for a humorous effect, but many of the Old Lyme art colonists developed a subtle blend of Tonalism and Impressionism.Learn More About Childe Hassam