New Lyman Allyn Exhibition Explores Mystic's Iconic Seaside Identity

Opening to the public on Saturday, May 21, the Lyman Allyn Art Museum’s upcoming exhibition Picturing Mystic: Views of the Connecticut Shoreline, 1890-1950, focuses on artistic depictions of the historic waterfronts and landscapes of Mystic, Noank, and Stonington. At the turn of the 20th century, a time when art colonies were also formed at Cos Cob and Lyme, Connecticut, Mystic emerged as a vibrant summer art colony. Artists gathered there to paint, inspired by the beauty of the Mystic River, the area’s rolling hills, historic architecture, and its coastal fishing and shipbuilding history.

This exhibition, which runs through Sept. 4, features the art of Mystic, Noank, Mason’s Island, and Stonington, with more than 60 landscapes dating from 1890 to 1950. It focuses on the area’s history as an art colony, with Charles H. Davis at the group’s founding center. Davis moved to Mystic in 1891 and was soon followed by other artists, including Reynolds Beal and Henry Ward Ranger. Artists taught summer classes in Mystic and established the Mystic Art Association in 1913, exhibiting as a group the following year. Located halfway between Boston and New York, Mystic attracted artists from both centers. Many were linked by friendship, including a close-knit group of Philadelphia artists who had studied together at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Artists painted many regional scenes and landscapes, but some locations held particular appeal. Mason’s Island, located at the mouth of the Mystic River, was a favorite place to paint, as were Noank’s docks. North Dock in particular, with its weathered buildings and fishing boats, was “admired and painted by hundreds of artists,” noted The New London Day in 1938.

The exhibition showcases art from the Lyman Allyn’s permanent collection and from the collection of Jonathan C. Sproul of Mystic, and it includes many pieces that have not previously been exhibited to the public. Historic maps, photographs and postcards help contextualize the art, tracing how the villages and landscapes have endured and changed over the past 130 years.

“We think this will be a great exhibition for local residents and visitors to the region throughout the summer,” said Dr. Tanya Pohrt, the Museum’s curator. “The works of art reveal how artists helped shape Mystic’s identity as an iconic seaside destination.”

An opening reception will be held Friday, May 20th from 5 to 7 p.m. A conversation with the collector is also planned for Thursday, July 14, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sproul and Pohrt will tour the galleries as they discuss a selection of works on view. Reservations for both events are recommended and can be made by calling 860.443.2545 ext. 2129 or emailing info@lymanallyn.org.

This exhibition is made possible with support from the Frank Loomis Palmer Fund, Bank of America, Trustee; and the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts.

Tours of the exhibition are available for groups. To schedule tours, call the Department of Learning and Engagement at 860.443.2545, ext. 2128 or email donovan@lymanallyn.org.

For more information or to request images, please contact Rebecca Dawson by email at dawson@lymanallyn.org.