NYC Exhibit Of Rare Bermuda Paintings

May 19, 2013

voorheesNew York’s Hawthorne Fine Art recently held a rare exhibition of Bermuda landscapes by Clark Greenwood Voorhees, the originator of the Connecticut-based Old Lyme school of Impressionism.

Running from December 8, 2012 through January 18, 2013, “Isles of Tranquility: Paintings of Bermuda by Clark Greenwood Voorhees” was only the second full-scale show of the artist’s work in three decades.

Kept largely private by a sprawling family of artists and intellectuals, the paintings of Clark Voorhees [1871-1933] have only occasionally been exhibited in public.

In this exclusive showing Hawthorne Fine Art exhibited various drawings and watercolors on the Bermuda theme by Mr. Voorhees [seen here in a self-portrait] as well as his local landscapes.

The son of a New York City stockbroker, Mr. Voorhees was initially drawn to the sciences and earned degrees in Chemistry from Yale and Columbia Universities.

In 1894, he began to seriously pursue fine art — which had always been a hobby — when he enrolled in classes at the Art Students League in New York.

The following year, Mr. Voorhees enrolled at the Metropolitan School of Fine Art. He also studied with Irving Ramsey Wiles on Long Island and with Leonard Ochtman in Connecticut.

In 1897, he travelled to Europe, studying with Benjamin Constant and J. P. Laurens at the Académie Julianin Paris and spending time in the French village of Barbizon as well as in Holland.

Mr. Voorhees first visited Old Lyme, Connecticut in 1893. In 1896, he returned with his mother and sister, who stayed at an informal boarding house run by Florence Griswold.

The Florence Griswold House — now the Florence Griswold Museum — would eventually become the centre of Old Lyme’s artistic community and it is very likely that Henry Ward Ranger, often described as the Old Lyme art colony’s founder, was introduced to both Old Lyme and the Griswold House through Mr. Voorhees.

In 1919, Mr. Voorhees and a small group of fellow painters from the Old Lyme artists’ colony began to spend their winters in Bermuda.

Drawn by Bermuda’s mild climate and vibrant colours, the artist eventually purchased a house on the island that he named “Tranquility.”

Clark Voorhees, “Sprinfield Courtyard By Moonlight”


His lush, nuanced studies of the island reflect the artist’s life-long interest in the natural sciences, as observed from the back of his beloved bicycle, as well as an enduring interest in and affection for the Bermuda landscape.

Describing the artist’s work as vibrating “with a subjective, emotional response to nature” in her essay in the Hawthorne exhibition’s catalogue, art historian Caroline Gillespie went on to say: “The extraordinary body of work that Voorhees produced based on his winter trips to the islands of Bermuda continued [his] experiments, both tonal and impressionistic, while incorporating the exciting new colours, climate, and architecture of this place.

Clark Voorhees, “Church Bay”


“Having composed New England subjects that captured the experience of his Connecticut life, Voorhees used his idiosyncratic artistic process to integrate the experience of a new environment and make it a second home.”

Gallery owner Jennifer Krieger considered the recent exhibition an extraordinary honor.

“It is exceedingly rare to uncover a hidden trove of work by a first-rate American Impressionist, especially one that so beautifully explores the many facets of a particular region,” she said. “Voorhees was an artist who was keenly sensitive to the subtleties of climate and geography and this group reflects the brilliant light and jewel-like colors peculiar to Bermuda.”

Clark Voorhees, “Looking Towards the Dockyard from Somerset


Other paintings by the artist are on display in the collections of the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art, Phoenix Art Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut and the Chicago Union League Club.

Hawthorne Fine Art is a gallery specialising in 19th and early 20th century American paintings located at 74 East 79th Street between Park and Madison Avenues in New York.

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