"THE ROMANTIC TOWN OF OLD LYME" Old Lyme by songlines

Old Lyme Travel Guide: 2 reviews and 28 photos


Along the seacoast of New England somewhere between New York and Boston lies the charming town of Old Lyme. It is a very peaceful place surrounded by beautiful mature hardwood trees and the river Lieutenant, which flows past this town and into the Atlantic Ocean.

It is here that Mikio and I stayed for two days in the lovely Bee & Thistle B&B which is right beside where Florence Griswold lived in a large house with an impressive fašade of four tall columns capped with Ionic capitals. The extensive gardens, bordering on the same lovely river, where reeds growing along its borders, make it a very pastoral setting.

We visited this large house and were shown around on a guided tour. The moment that I learnt about the life of this amazing 19th century woman, I became a great admirer of her. A single woman, she decided to supplement her income by opening up her large house and taking in lodgers. A New York artist, Henry Ward Ranger was one of the early lodgers in her place, and brought along more artists, all of them tired of painting modernist and wanting to experiment painting rural life, and out of doors. Soon an Art Colony was set up and more painters from all over the place came to stay and paint, to enjoy each others company, and no doubt to compare and discuss their painting styles. In the early days many painted in the Tonalism style, in rather dull colours and tones, often giving a rather misty and perhaps poetic mood to their subject, i.e. the surrounding rural landscape of Old Lyme. Florence?s house has many examples of this style of painting and it is interesting to see the contrast with the impressionist style used in many of the later paintings.

In the gardens, a fantastic variety of mature and large beautiful trees, the meadows leading down to the river, the stylish and typical American wooden houses, all do give Old Lyme a lovely, rich atmosphere, stimulating the artistic imagination.

We spent two wonderful days here, sharing a love for art, and nature, and having us wonder what the next moment was going to bring. I am happy that we shared this time in Old Lyme, it was truly lovely.


When we visited the Krieble gallery at Florences Griswolds museum, there was a exhibition running (till 27th July 08) called Impressionist Givery ? American Painters in France, 1885 ? 1915, which shows over fifty works that tell a story of an artists colony in Giverny, the village in France where impressionist painter Claude Monet lived.

Giverny welcomed very many artists in the late 19th century, early 20th century.
Claude Monet, who had moved there, was as a magnet and attracted many other artists to come and stay or live in and around Giverny. Artists came from all over the world, but especially from America. They enjoyed painting in the village and the area around it, enjoying a busy social life too. Parallels have been drawn between Giverny and the town of Old Lyme in Connecticut as they both shared a similar history, in both places there were artist colonies, impressionists, painting of and in nature, and enjoying each others company. The link between Giverny and Old Lyme became stronger when the American painter Willard Metcalf, who used to be part of the Giverny colony, went and lived in Old Lyme, joining the artists there at Florence Griswold?s boarding house, naturally he, among others, brought influences from Giverny impressionists to Old Lyme, and to American impressionism, an important development.

I have enjoyed this exhibition very much, especially as I wanted to become more acquainted with American artists and art history. When enjoying this exhibition, and as we were taking it all in, Mikio pointed out the amazing ?Studies of an autumn day;? a series of 12 paintings of a haystack showing the changing light and shadows of the day, by John Leslie Breck. In truth this is a reminder of Monet?s many paintings, showing a haystack in all sorts of light. Among the paintings exhibited were also some beautiful garden scenes with people, and of flowers.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Old Lyme was the greatest experience!
  • Cons:No Cons.
  • In a nutshell:Everything was perfect, it speaks to my Romantic side, it also has stimulated me to learn more about American Art!
  • Last visit to Old Lyme: Jun 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Comments (1)

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Sep 27, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    lovely visit! and no doubt even lovelier during the famed New England fall!

    • angiebabe's Profile Photo
      Sep 27, 2014 at 8:45 AM

      been to a couple of gorgeous places here already in beautiful autumn colours! i keep putting plans for USA fall trips on hold lol

    • songlines's Profile Photo
      Sep 27, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      Me too, have heard so much about these amazing colours in the fall, one day I too would like to see it with my own eyes :-)


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