Corner of Griswold dining room showing panel in place
Will Howe Foote (1874-1965)
A Summer’s Night, c. 1906
Oil on canvas
Gift of the Artist
Harry Hoffman (1874-1966)
View of the Griswold House, 1908
Oil on pressed board
Gift of the Family of Mrs. Nancy B. Krieble
Will Howe Foote
Born June 29, 1874, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Died January 27, 1965, Sarasota, Florida
In Old Lyme, 1901-65; in Cos Cob, 1903
Will Howe Foote painting en plein air
Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858-1925)
May Night, 1906
Oil on wood panel
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Museum Purchase, Gallery Fund. 07.7
Matilda Browne (1869-1947)
Oil on wood panel
Foote’s panel, however, has the distinction not only of showing more of the house (in a somewhat flawed perspective) and of including a child, but it has odd brushwork in a series of short horizontal strokes layered one above the other. This romantic tonal scene, dark but for the light on the house and figures, thus has a textural “vibration” – a word used often about American Impressionism in the 1890s, when Childe Hassam was called “the arch vibrator.” The artists at Old Lyme found moonlight pictures to be a good way of uniting the atmospheric effects and limited palette of Tonalism with the themes and dashing brushwork of Impressionism.
Foote, a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, arrived in Old Lyme in 1901 with his uncle, William Henry Howe, a famous cattle painter. Foote’s early work in Connecticut reflects his interest in soft, atmospheric tonal scenes, but Hassam’s influence led him to lighten his palette, sometimes to a very high key. He constantly experimented with light and color, but his interest in form, mass, and simple geometric arrangements like those seen on this panel continued throughout his career. Foote settled year-round in Old Lyme in 1909 and was active in community affairs but spent most winters in warmer places. He died at age 90, the last survivor of the original Old Lyme group.