Editor's note: The following essay was reprinted in Resource Library on October 22, 2009 with permission of the Florence Griswold Museum. If you have questions or comments regarding the text, please contact the Florence Griswold Museum directly through this phone number or Web address:


Clark G. Voorhees: 1871 - 1933

by Barbara J. MacAdam


Perhaps at no time in this nation's history was the study and practice of art more popular than at the turn of this century. In an era characterized by sweeping social and technological change, the pursuit of art denoted gentility, status, and tradition. Art museums, galleries, schools, and associations sprang up nationwide to serve a burgeoning class of men and women devoted to the fine arts -- few of whom would be remembered a generation later.[1]

Clark Greenwood Voorhees was among the countless young artists to take advantage of the new opportunities for the study and exhibition of art. Although active in New York art societies, Voorhees is most remembered for his long and close association with the art colony that thrived in Old Lyme, Connecticut, early in this century.[2] Henry Ward Ranger has been credited with having been the first artist to recognize Old Lyme's potential as an art community in 1899, but Voorhees was acquainted with the village as early as 1893.[3] He was probably responsible for sending Ranger to Old Lyme and referring him to Miss Florence Griswold, whose house formed the colony's center.

Clark Voorhees was initially attracted to Old Lyme not as a painter, but as a sportsman and a naturalist. Although during his years at Yale he had sailed past the village on summer cruises from Greenwich, he first visited it in 1893 on a New England bicycle trip.[4] He bicycled through again in 1896 -- then an art student in New York -- and boarded at the Bacon House next to Old Lyme's ferry landing (cat. 38, fig. 2). Voorhees returned to Old Lyme the following month and spent most of the summer and early fall painting and birdwatching, while his mother and sister stayed at what was then a girls school and boarding house operated by Mrs. Robert Griswold and her daughter, Florence .[5] On returning to New York that October, Voorhees no doubt had Old Lyme in mind as he entered in his diary: "I am sorry to get back after my long vacation, and feel more than ever that the country is the place for me."[6]

In the years that followed, Voorhees continued to make frequent trips to Old Lyme -- whether for a few days of duck hunting or several weeks of painting. In the early 1900s he was an active art colony member, boarding at the Florence Griswold House and exhibiting in the group's first exhibition in 1902.[7] Before returning to New York the following fall, he purchased an eighteenth-century gambrel-roofed house overlooking the Connecticut River (cat. 19, pI. 1), one that he "had wanted so long."[8] In the country year-round at last, Voorhees adopted Lyme as home.

By the time Voorhees moved to Connecticut, he was already receiving critical recognition that would continue in the following decades. He had studied both in New York and Paris, and had exhibited at the National Academy of Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the American Watercolor Society. A quiet, unassuming man, he never achieved the stature of many of his contemporaries. Yet he resolutely pursued his art and left a prodigious body of work that reflects his keen sensitivity to time of day, change of season, and the varied texture of the New England landscape. Moreover, through the rich documentation available on Voorhees' early career, we gain rare insight into a young artist's development in an era when American art was reaching new heights in popularity and critical acceptance.




Clark Greenwood Voorhees was born May 29, 1871, in New York City to Charles Henry and Mary Greenwood Voorhees. A descendant of two prominent families and the son of a successful stockbroker, his modest wealth made it possible for him to take advantage of wide-ranging opportunities for study and travel. Eventually he pursued an art career full time.

After first attending the Chapin Collegiate School in New York, Voorhees entered Yale's Sheffield Scientific School, where he received a B.A. in Chemistry in 1891. Although he apparently had every intention of becoming a chemist, diary entries from his Yale years suggest that his interests lay elsewhere. He devoted far more time to such extracurricular activities as building his ornithology collection and drawing than to his studies. Often rising at 4 a.m., he would take his "collecting gun" out Prospect Avenue and "collect specimens," gather nests, or study migrating birds. He passed many afternoons attending athletic events or sketching out-of-doors.

Voorhees' appreciation of the Connecticut landscape dates back to his excursions from New Haven. After riding north of the city on a rented bicycle one spring afternoon, he later made detailed notes on his return:

The country we passed through on the way up was an ideal New England farming district.... The road passes by very old farm houses and by fresh bottom lands covered with young wheat. [I] was never so impressed by a homely bit of landscape before.[9]

In addition to such outdoor activities, Voorhees enjoyed a whirlwind of parties, pranks, dances, and social calls during his student years, and was understandably saddened to leave Yale:

These past three years have been bright ones. I have made friends, a good many I think, and no enemies.... It is hard to realize that our college days are over, but we all make great promises for the triennial and thank our lucky stars that we came to Yale.[10]

Without neglecting his outside interests, Voorhees worked as a chemist for several more years. The fall after graduation he returned to New Haven -- not as a Yale student but as a chemist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. A year later he enrolled at Columbia University, where he received his master's degree in June, 1893. Choosing not to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry, he continued the next fall as a laboratory assistant.

While at Columbia, Voorhees began drawing with increasing frequency and ambition. He submitted examples of his work to Life magazine and to the Columbia Spectator, which published five of his drawings in December, 1892.[11] A year later, after a Mr. McVickar from Vogue magazine had criticized a sampling of his drawings and offered some encouragement, Voorhees pledged that he would "try to do some drawing each P.M."[12] A few weeks later he applied for admission to the Art Students League.

The years that followed were marked both by rising enthusiasm for art and by increasing frustration in the laboratory. In January, 1894, Voorhees enrolled in an evening class at the Art Students League and began his first work with pastels and oils. That October he recorded in his diary that "work in the lab is very confining and unsatisfactory as there seems but small chance of bettering."[13] He kept up his part-time work, however, as well as tutoring mathematics, until January, 1896. In the intervening year his exposure to art broadened with evening classes at the Metropolitan School of Fine Arts, regular visits to New York exhibitions and, in 1895, a summer of painting at Peconic, Long Island, at Cape Cod, and at Greenwich, Connecticut.[14]

At Peconic, Voorhees boarded near the summer home of Irving R. Wiles. There, with about fifteen other students, he received informal instruction from this well-established portrait and marine painter.[15] Most of Voorhees' figure and landscape painting that July was done out-of-doors, although he had access to a makeshift studio above the Peconic General Store. Among the highlights of the month were a student exhibition in the studio, daily beach picnics, and a day trip across Long Island to William Merritt Chase's Shinnecock summer art school near Southampton. Wiles's summer class arrived in Shinnecock in time for Mr. Chase's morning criticism and later visited the master in his studio.[16] Although brief, Voorhees' month-long stay on Long Island was no doubt influential, introducing him to leading artists and to the satisfying mix of serious work, picturesque scenery, and lively camaraderie characteristic of summer art colonies.

From Peconic, Voorhees spent a month sailing, birdwatching, and painting at Marion and at Chatham, Massachusetts. He then returned to New York, stopping briefly in Greenwich, Connecticut, where for several years he had summered with his family, staying at "Held House," a fashionable resort hotel. This visit in 1895 was apparently the first time, however, that Voorhees was aware of the artistic impulse surrounding him in Greenwich. Beginning around 1890, John Henry Twatchtman had taught his Art Students League summer classes in the neighboring village of Cos Cob, attracting a core of artists later referred to as the "Cos Cob Clapboard School."[17] It is quite possible that Voorhees would not have run into the Cos Cob group during the early 1890s since most of Twachtman's students did not stay in hotels but boarded at the inexpensive Holley House. That September, however, Voorhees noted in his diary that two artists, Matilda Browne and Allen Talcott, both of whom later painted in Old Lyme, "are here and have been all summer."[18]

Voorhees spent most of the following summer in Lyme, joined by his mother and sister. Two young ladies whom he had met in New Haven provided a valuable entrée into the community. In no time he was singing in the local church choir and appearing regularly in the area's social column.[19] He often met his mother and sister for dinner at "Miss Griswold's School," and once attended a dance there, although he afterwards admitted that it was "a pretty slow time."[20] Despite such evening engagements, Voorhees spent most of his days alone, sketching along the Lieutenant River and exploring the countryside on bicycle and on foot.

The latter half of June, 1896 Voorhees spent in Cos Cob, taking informal instruction from Leonard Ochtman and boarding at a Miss Antoinette Jessop's nearby. Ochtman was largely a self-taught artist who had won recognition for his late autumn and winter landscapes.[21] His classes consisted of daily painting sessions in a nearby orchard and vegetable garden, with criticisms every other afternoon. The early subdued landscapes of Voorhees -- often set in the more barren months -- appear to owe a great deal to Ochtman. Through his instructor, Voorhees probably either met or heard of Julian Alden Weir, the prominent Impressionist painter with homes in Branchville, Connecticut, near Greenwich, and in Windham in the northeastern section of the state. The day after returning to Lyme from Cos Cob in mid-July, Voorhees bicycled up to Windham. Among other things, he wanted to look up Weir and inquire about classes. Unfortunately, Weir was neither in nor offering instruction.[22]

After enjoying the peak of the bird season in Lyme that fall, Voorhees reluctantly went home to New York. He renewed his studies at the Metropolitan School of Fine Arts and later the Art Students League, quitting both in February, 1897 to study abroad.




For the American artist at the turn of the century, Paris was the academic mecca that Munich had been in the 1870s. Artists consistently looked to Paris for the finishing touches, if not for the fundamentals of their training. The demand created by this influx of foreign students to Paris gave rise to several new institutions, foremost among them the Académie Julian. Since classes at the Académie were often too crowded for painting, the curriculum stressed drawing -- first from plaster casts and eventually from live models. If European training appeared marginal at times, it was, as art historian E.P. Richardson has pointed out, not without its value: "...it gave foreign students a glimpse of the French painter's pride of profession; an opportunity to absorb the atmosphere of a great, active center of their art; and a sense of belonging to a tradition bigger and older than themselves."[23] When Voorhees arrived in Paris in March, 1897, he was full of wonder and excitement: "It is all so bewildering and new," he wrote, "that I feel as I did when I first saw the 'Court of Honor' at the World's Columbian Fair, except there is lots of curiosity and amusement thrown in [with] the feelings of awe and admiration."[24]

After spending a few days settling in and looking up several American artists in Paris (including Kenyon Cox and Seymour Thomas), Voorhees began his studies at the Académie Julian under J.P. Laurens and Benjamin Constant.[25] Quickly adjusting to his studies and to his new life style, Voorhees joined fellow American students to tour the Parisien museums, palaces, and cafes. As soon as his "wheel" arrived, he explored the outlying countryside at every opportunity.

Voorhees' bicycle excursions outside Paris were probably as important to his artistic development as his studies at the Académie. In May, he rode out to the famous village of Barbizon at the edge of the forest of Fontainebleau that had been a center for such earlier landscape painters as Corot, Millet, and Rousseau. Although the Barbizon School had long since lost its vitality, succeeding generations of artists still looked to its founders for inspiration and made pilgrimages to the village that had given the group its name.[26] While sketching in and around the village, Voorhees met several other artists who, like him, found it "a beautiful, poetic region...full of tradition."[27]

He spent the late summer and early fall of 1897 in Laren, Holland, which also boasted a rich artistic legacy. Upon arrival Voorhees noted in his diary that "this is Mauve's old painting ground." Apparently the spirit of Anton Mauve was a motivating force throughout the summer; Voorhees consciously sketched where Mauve had worked, painted similar subjects -- Dutch peasants -- and shared the same interest in capturing moonlight and in hazy, "gray effects."[28] Although he stayed in a hotel occupied by several artists, Voorhees worked independently, renting a large room in a peasant's house for a studio, where he painted local women spinning and mending.[29]

In the fall Voorhees resumed his studies at the Académie in Paris. Then, taking a break from his formal studies in April 1898, he sailed for America where he divided his vacation among three coastal communities, all of which would become summer centers for American art: Goodground, Long Island (next to Southampton); Annisquam, Massachusetts (near Gloucester); and Old Lyme, Connecticut.[30] Fall was spent in New York, where he painted primarily from his sketches made the previous summer.

Before returning to Paris the following February, Voorhees made his first attempts at watercolors, three of which he sent to the American Watercolor Society. Once back in Paris, he was delighted to hear that these had been accepted, "hung on line," and favorably received. Moreover, the Philadelphia Art Club and the Chicago Art Institute had written asking for the paintings after the show, together with any others that he might send. "Very gratifying for my first watercolors," Voorhees commented in his diary.[31]

After another year at Julian's and a summer with fellow students painting Dutch country scenes near Alkmaar, Holland, Voorhees returned to the United States in 1900, but since the artist's diaries for 1900 to 1903 are missing, little is known about the years immediately following. It was certainly a period marked by increased visibility within the art establishment. Between 1900 and 1904 he was represented in annual exhibitions sponsored by the National Academy of Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Society of American Artists, and the American Watercolor Society.[32] He also exhibited at the St. Louis Exposition, where he was awarded a bronze medal.




Because of the gap in Voorhees' diary, it is difficult to determine precisely when he joined the art colony in Old Lyme. Probably he was there from the start. In retrospect, it seems unlikely that so faithful a summer visitor could have resisted the attraction of other like-minded artists, several of whom he already knew. Certainly by 1902, Voorhees was displaying his work in the first annual Lyme exhibition as he continued to do for the next thirty years.

By persuading Henry Ward Ranger to visit Old Lyme, Voorhees was indirectly responsible for the colony's growth. Once there, however, it was Ranger, and not Voorhees, who rallied the troops and set the tone at the Florence Griswold House. Because Ranger's views influenced Voorhees and the younger Old Lyme artists, his standing within the art community of his day deserves closer attention.

From the 1890s until his death in 1916 Ranger was a leading exponent of the "American Barbizon" and "Tonalist" styles, a role furthered in 1914 by the publication of R.H. Bell's Art Talks with Ranger. Like other members of his generation, including J. Francis Murphy, Leonard Ochtman, and Louis Paul Dessar, Ranger admired such Barbizon painters as Diaz de la Peña and the Dutch landscapists Anton Mauve and Jacob Maris.[33] As a result, he favored "harmonious modulations of color" and typically produced heavily-worked woodland scenes composed of huge, twisting oaks relieved only by a small, central clearing, shot through with light.[34]

Early in this century, Katz Galleries of New York held an exhibition of landscapes by Clark Voorhees, Gifford Beal, and Will Howe Foote, which prompted this comment from a reviewer:

The painters have all been sitting at the feet of that Art Gamaliel Henry Ward Ranger, and their works have been painted in and about Mr. Ranger's summer haunts at Lyme, Saybrook, and Noank, Conn. They could not have had a better influence than that of Mr. Ranger, and that they have profited by his advice, if not his teaching, their canvases clearly show.

Pointing out the desirability of canvases by Ranger, the reviewer added:

The work of these young men, although now but a reflection of Mr. Ranger's in rich and mellow color, composition, feeling and sentiment, is still full of promise, and collectors who cannot obtain a Ranger...will not go far wrong if they add an example of each painter to their store of American canvases.[35]

In composition and subject matter, Voorhees' Autumn Landscape, Old Lyme, 1904 (cat. 1, pI. 2), best illustrates his indebtedness to Ranger. But, where Ranger favored somber earth tones, heavy impasto, and dramatic contrasts between lights and darks in his forest interiors, Voorhees employed loose brushwork, varied hues, and quieter gradations of light. Autumn Landscape, Old Lyme may echo the peaceful ambience of the Fontainebleau forest, but has captured little of its mystery or drama.

Although his painting style was a fairly direct translation of late Barbizon practices, the festive atmosphere that Ranger fostered at the Florence Griswold House was a far cry from its model, the small gathering of serious-minded artists at Ganne's Inn at Barbizon.[36] Miss Florence's boarders valued recreation, good food, and lively company as much as painting. Voorhees' diary from the summer of 1903 describes a continuous round of social and athletic activities: baseball games, canoeing, picnics, tennis matches, trips to the beach, and evenings of poker, whist, and musical entertainment. In August there was a field day with "athletic games for Ladies and Men"; in this Voorhees only tied with artist Arthur Heming in the 100 yard dash but "won [the] shooting." There was painting in Old Lyme, to be sure; but it was not until October, when the crowds at the Griswold House had thinned somewhat, that Voorhees could note that he was "sketching now about all the time."[37]

If a summer of frolic in the country was made to order for some artists from the city, others found the social activities distracting. Gifford Beal, one of Voorhees' closest friends, was proud not to have associated himself too closely with any one colony. In a 1934 interview he remarked:

They're like clubs. At first they're made up of a few good men. Then the floaters and hangers-on come in and spoil everything. It's the social life that keeps those places going, and that saps your energy so that you can't work. Some of the artists may accomplish something, but they're the ones that would get ahead anywhere.[38]

Although Voorhees obviously enjoyed summer recreation, perhaps he appreciated solitude and quiet even more. In the fall of 1903 he purchased his Connecticut home and moved there the following year, soon after his marriage to Maud Christine Folsom in August, 1904. This new living arrangement established what was perhaps, for Voorhees, an ideal relationship to the art colony. He was near enough to the Florence Griswold House to benefit from the stimulation of other artists, yet far enough away to be able to devote time to his painting and to his new wife.

Voorhees' wife, Maud Folsom, came from an artistic, well-to-do family in Lenox, Massachusetts, one of seven daughters of Frances Hastings and George Winthrop Folsom.[39] Voorhees' courtship with Miss Folsom quickly took precedence over the social calls that had previously filled his calendar. He made regular visits to Lenox from New York and Connecticut, and more than once bicycled part of the distance between Old Lyme and the Folsom estate.[40] A few months after their marriage on August 20, 1904, the newlyweds left for Italy.[41] At this point Clark's known diaries come to an end, leaving uncertain the exact date that he and his wife returned to Old Lyme.

Once settled in Connecticut, however, the couple lavished attention on their house, which they named Ker Guen (Dutch for "White House"). In a 1914 article on Old Lyme in Country Life in America, Clark was described as one "who likes to do things around the house himself." He built bookcases for the living room and a detached studio that sat above the water on stone pilings.[42] In fact, the Colonial house proved an ideal setting for the antiques, bits of old china, and historical memorabilia that he loved to collect locally, as well as for the Japanese prints that he first began to assemble while in Paris. Maud, who was "very stylish for Old Lyme," planted a spectacular flower garden that meandered down to the Connecticut River.[43]

Numerous paintings by such Old Lyme artists as Matilda Browne and Will Howe Foote suggest that the Voorhees house became something of an extension of the art colony.[44] Among the guests who included a visit to the Voorhees house as part of their stay at Miss Florence's were the Woodrow Wilsons, who spent the summers of 1905, 1909, and 1910 in Old Lyme while Mrs. Wilson studied painting under Frank DuMond. On one occasion, Wilson, who was then president of Princeton University, was said to have almost drowned in a leaky motor launch owned by Voorhees.[45]

Although mornings were always reserved for painting, family and community affairs shared Voorhees' attention in Old Lyme. Sketching was a regular feature of family outings, and the three Voorhees children -- Helen Stuyvesant, Clark Greenwood, and Florence Whistler -- were all encouraged by their father to become artists in their own right. Although he remained at least nominally active in New York art clubs, Clark Voorhees devoted most of his time and interest to local organizations.[46] He exhibited annually with the Lyme Group, which in 1914 formed the Lyme Art Association, and for several years he was its secretary. He was a founding member of the volunteer fire department and of the Old Lyme Country Club. In 1919 he was elected a trustee of the local library that had housed the Lyme art exhibition during the first seventeen years, and in 1927 he was made president.




After his marriage Voorhees usually spent the late summer and early fall in Lenox, Massachusetts. There he exhibited with the Stockbridge Art Association from 1910 through 1931 and until 1930 served on the exhibition committee, which included among others, Daniel Chester French.[47]

Like so many of the Old Lyme artists, Voorhees eventually sought a warm climate where he could paint more comfortably out-of-doors in the winter. The family's first trip to Bermuda in 1919 was partly to paint and partly to escape the flu epidemic. But the following year he returned and bought an old farmhouse ("Tranquility" cat. 33, fig. 13), which he improved before moving in later that winter. A studio, modeled after an old slave cottage nearby, provided a place where he would develop his sun-filled sketches of rocky beaches, deserted houses, and Bermuda cedars set against the turquoise sea. His daughter recalls that during this period her father was entirely happy to rely once again on the service of his bicycle. To this, stripped of its mudguards, he would "strap his easel, painting materials and canvas...and go rattling off over the paths and dirt tracks."[48]

By the early 1930s, his failing heart prevented Voorhees from doing much painting. As a substitute he turned to etching, a medium in which he produced numerous prints of Old Lyme and Bermuda subjects. In January, 1933, six months before he died, he wrote his daughter, Florence, then an art student in Boston:

My etching hasn't progressed much.... However, I am still trying -- Glad to hear that you see progress in your work -- Art is certainly discouraging but it has its compensations -- once in a while you feel bucked up over something you do and it makes up for a lot of failures -- As long as the failures teach you something you are making progress.[49]




Unfortunately, the paintings by Clark Voorhees known today are hardly representative of his entire career. Few exist from his early years, the period so thoroughly documented by his diaries. One drawing of the Bacon House survives from his first summer in Old Lyme in 1896 (cat. 38, fig. 2), and one European scene is known (cat. 21). But as in the case of the early watercolors that met with such success, we are left to imagine the countless sketches made abroad and during his summers in Connecticut. Equally disappointing is the lack of dates for all but a fraction of Voorhees' canvases, making highly subjective all but the barest outline of his stylistic development. Yet from the few paintings for which dates are known or can be approximated, certain directions in Voorhees' later work can be noted.

The early influence of Ranger is apparent in Voorhees' woodland scenes as well as in his harbor views with their subtle gradations of a dominant tone (Late Afternoon, Noank, cat. 13, fig. 1). During the teens and twenties, Voorhees gradually lightened his Barbizon palette and adopted more expressive brushwork. But what set him apart from many of his peers in Old Lyme was his failure to do so sooner. Shortly after Childe Hassam arrived in Old Lyme in 1903, several of the artists associated with the art colony had begun to experiment with the broken brushwork and primary colors associated with the Impressionists. The arrival of Willard Metcalf and Walter Griffin, soon after, gave additional support to those who favored change. Yet Old Lyme's conversion to Impressionism was by no means sudden or complete. Ranger, who did not favor the Impressionists' bright colors and who begrudged Hassam his position of authority, moved to nearby Noank, and Barbizon tenets lingered on with other of the older practitioners such as William Henry Howe and Carleton Wiggins, as well as among some of the younger artists, like Clark Voorhees.

As late as 1919 a reviewer for the Lyme Art Association's annual exhibition singled out Voorhees as having "clung to some of the tendencies of the tonalist."[50] But in 1923, when the Association awarded May Morning (location unknown) its W.S. Eaton Purchase Prize, one reviewer, impressed with the painting's sunny effects, noted that whereas "for several years the artist [had been] represented in the shows almost exclusively by his winter landscapes of cedar and snow...the theme of spring [was] one of an entirely different nature."[51]

Actually it can be shown that Voorhees had brightened his palette somewhat earlier than 1923. In the painting entitled My Garden, c. 1914 (cat. 19, plate 1), he used loosely applied, pure colors to convey the brilliant hues of summer flowers in the sunlight; the artist's house, in contrast, is carefully outlined and clearly rendered. Rather than being dissolved, form and mass in Voorhees' work are given added emphasis by sunlight. Only a handful of paintings, such as his sketch of Dogwood (cat. 9, fig. 19), exhibit both dissolution of structure and the fluid brushwork associated with Impressionism.

Certain scenes fascinated Voorhees throughout his career, prominent among these were moonlit landscapes (cat. 8,12,17,42), and winter harmonies of gray (Lyme Hills, cat. 14, fig. 20). To some extent, he adopted the style best suited to his subject. If the dazzling Bermuda sunlight called for special themes treated in a new way, it did not require him to give up his earlier interests, as seen in Landscape by Moonlight (cat. 12, plate 3). In this the row of Bermuda cedars leading diagonally back across the canvas not only identifies the painting's location but illustrates a common compositional device which the artist frequently employed.

As a group, Voorhees' Connecticut landscapes are his strongest, perhaps because it was in Old Lyme that so many of his early interests and influences merged. There both the setting and the congenial company of friends echoed carefree summers in Greenwich, Peconic, Laren, and Barbizon; and there, as in his student years, he continued to benefit from interaction with more established artists. In time, such men as Henry Ward Ranger, Willard Metcalf, and Childe Hassam took the place of his early role models: Wiles, Ochtman, and his academy instructors. In Old Lyme, too, the surrounding landscape provided an ever-renewing source of pleasure and inspiration.

His faithful representation of the Connecticut countryside reminds us that Voorhees first explored the area as a naturalist. Although influenced by both Ranger and Hassam, he retained an interest in form, line, and detail, never fully adopting either the poetic suggestiveness of the Tonalists or the exaggerated palette of the Impressionists. Instead, Voorhees committed himself to recording the effects of time and season on the familiar New England landscape in a style that derives from his contemporaries, but which is unmistakeably his own.



1 For a discussion of the development of American art museums, schools, and galleries, see E.P. Richardson, Painting in America (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1956), pp. 307 - 310; and Joshua C. Taylor, The Fine Arts in America, The Chicago History of American Civilization, Daniel J. Boorstin, ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979), pp. 118 - 125, 143 - 145.
2 For more on the development of the art colony in Old Lyme, see Jeffrey W. Andersen, "The Art Colony at Old Lyme," in Connecticut and American Impressionism (Exh. cat., The William Benton Museum of Art, The University of Connecticut, 1980), pp. 114 - 137.
3 Notes on the Florence Griswold House by Harry Hoffman, August 5, 1954 (Lyme Art Association Papers, Lyme Historical Society [hereafter referred to as LHS] Archives), p. 1. Although not a colony, a summer school of art held classes in Old Lyme for one season, in 1894. The school was operated by the Brooklyn artist, Joseph Boston, under the auspices of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. It moved the following year to Belle Island, a small island at the mouth of Norwalk Harbor, Connecticut.
4 During a summer vacation in Greenwich, Connecticut, Voorhees sailed with a friend to Old Saybrook, then bicycled from Old Saybrook to New London (which would have taken him through Old Lyme), in what was the first leg of a bicycle trip to Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Clark Voorhees' Diary, Old Saybrook, Conn., August 10, 1893; and New London, Conn., August 11, 1893. The artist's diary is extant for the years 1890 - 1899, and 1903 - 1905 (Collection of Michael W. Voorhees). He purchased his first "wheel," as he called it, in June, 1892. He replaced it with a more sophisticated model in March, 1895, and began clocking his mileage. Seven months later, his cyclometer read 1292 miles. Ibid., New York, October 7, 1895.
5 For a capsule history of the Florence Griswold House, see Andersen, p. 117. An 1896 pamphlet memorializing Florence Griswold's sister Louise Griswold, cites that the Griswold Home School was founded in 1878 and continued through 1892. Louise Augusta Griswold: Born October 8, 1841, Died April 12, 1896 (Old Lyme: privately printed, 1896), p. 3, (LHS Archives). Voorhees referred to the house as "Miss Griswold's School" as late as 1896, however, suggesting that informal instruction may still have been offered. Clark Voorhees' Diary, Old Lyme, Conn., June 2, 1896.
6 Clark Voorhees' Diary, New York, October 7, 1896.
7 1902 Lyme, Connecticut Exhibition Poster (Lyme Art Association Papers, LHS Archives).
8 Clark Voorhees' Diary, Old Lyme, Conn., November 11, 1903.
9 Clark Voorhees' Diary, New Haven, Conn., April 29, 1891.
10 Ibid., June 27, 1891.
11 Ibid., New York, August 12, December 10, and December 20, 1892; additional work for the Spectator is mentioned in Voorhees' diary notations from January 15, 1893, and October 24, 1893.
12 Ibid., December 5, 1893.
13 Ibid., October 10, 1894.
14 The Metropolitan School of Fine Arts was a small, short-lived art school, "rarely composed of more than a handful of students," about which little has been written. It was founded by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (exact date unknown), and disbanded by the Museum Board in 1894. The school was then reorganized by its students and moved to Carnegie Hall. Marguerite Tracy, "Reminiscences of a Merry Art School..." (Extract from the Illustrator, 1895). The institution had apparently dissolved by 1898, as it is not listed in the first volume of the American Art Annual, published in that year.
Voorhees frequented New York's museums, galleries, and art associations almost daily. Most often mentioned in his diary were exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Society of Independent Artists, and the National Academy of Design.
15 Irving Ramsay Wiles (1861 - 1948) was among William Merritt Chase's early students (at the Art Students League in 1879). Having won the lasting respect and friendship of his instructor, Wiles later received teaching appointments at the Art Students League and the Chase School. Ronald G. Pisano, William Merritt Chase in the Company of Friends (Exh. cat., The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, N.Y., 1979), p. 35.
16 Clark Voorhees' Diary, Peconic, N.Y., July 8 - August 16, 1885; trip to Chase's studio, July 15, 1895. Chase operated his summer school in Shinnecock for eleven years. Founded in 1891, it was "the first organized school in America where painting was taught in the open air." William H. Gerdts, American Impressionism (Exh. cat., The Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, 1980), p. 24 - 25.
17 Coined by Childe Hassam, the group's nickname referred to the artists' predilection for painting the village's unassuming frame buildings. See Susan G. Larkin's essay, "The Cos Cob Clapboard School," in Connecticut and American Impressionism, pp. 82 - 99.
18 Clark Voorhees' Diary, Greenwich, Conn., September 29, 1895.
19 The [Lyme, Conn.] Sound Breeze, October 6, and October 13, 1896.
20 Clark Voorhees' Diary, Old Lyme, Conn., September 7, 1896.
21 For more on Ochtman, see Kathie Manthorne's biographical sketch of the artist in, Barbara Novak and Annette Blaugrind, eds., Next to Nature: Landscape Paintings from the National Academy of Design (Exh. cat., National Academy of Design, N.Y., 1980), pp. 175 - 178.
22 Clark Voorhees' Diary, Riverside Conn., June 10 - July 9, 1896; visit to Windham, July 14, 1896. Weir apparently never offered classes in Windham, although he did teach with Twachtman in Cos Cob in 1892 and in 1893, and held summer classes at Branchville beginning with the summer of 1897. Connecticut and American Impressionism, p. 177.
23 Richardson, p. 278. For a personal look at art study at the Académie Julian, see Alphaeus P. Cole's reminiscences, "An Adolescent in Paris: The Adventure of Being an Art Student Abroad in the Late 19th Century," The American Art Journal (November, 1976), pp. 111 - 115.
24 Clark Voorhees' Diary, Paris, March 8, 1897. After having visited the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893, Voorhees remarked in his diary: "I will not waste adjectives on the Fair, but feel that it would form an epoch in any man's life. I am sure it has in mine." New York, September 20, 1893.
25 Ibid., Paris, March 13, 1897.
26 For the Barbizon School's influence on American artists, see Peter Bermingham, American Art in the Barbizon Mood (Exh. cat., National Collection of Fine Arts, 1975).
27 Clark Voorhees' Diary, Barbizon, France, May 19, 1897.
28 Anton Mauve (Dutch 1838 - 1888), was a leading painter of the Hague School. For a brief biographical sketch, see Pisano, p. 29.
29 Clark Voorhees' Diary, Laren, Holland, August 2, 1897; August 2 - 0ctober 19, 1897, passim.
30 Voorhees stayed with an old college friend in Goodground, June 7 - 27, 1898. Although he does not mention William Merritt Chase and the Shinnecock School in his diaries, he sketched the Shinnecock hills almost daily, and played "cards nearly every night with Potthast [presumably the artist Edward Potthast]...." Ibid., Goodground, N.Y., June 24, 1898.
31 Ibid., Paris, March, 1899.
32 Ibid., New York, January 2, 1903: "Varnishing day at acad[emy].... Two landscapes there, fairly well placed"; and January 4, 1904: "...Have had all 4 pictures hung at Academy -- 1400 were sent in this year and 350 taken -- I was fortunate."
33 Bermingham, p. 63, p. 165.
34 R.H. Bell, Art Talks With Ranger (New York and London: G.P. Putnam and Sons, 1914), p. 130.
35 Photocopy of undated, unidentified newspaper clipping (LHS Archives).
36 Bermingham, p. 89.
37 Clark Voorhees' Diary, Old Lyme, Conn., August 26, 1903; and after October 15, 1903.
38 Richard Beer, "As They Are," Art News (May, 1934), p. 11, quoted in Helen Raye's biographical sketch of the artist, in Novak and Blaugrind, eds., Next to Nature, p. 182.
39 George Folsom was a lawyer, painter, and a talented photographer, whose substantial wealth was derived largely through prudent management of a family trust fund. Obituary, New York Times, March 30, 1915.
40 Ibid., Colebrook, Conn., May 23, 1903; and Old Lyme, May 25, 1903.
41 Over seven hundred guests attended the wedding reception, which was described as "brilliant...[the] largest of the season." New York Times, August 21, 1904, p. 9.
42 H.S. Adams, "Lyme -- A Country Life Community," Country Life in America (April, 1914), p. 92.
43 Notes from conversation with Mrs. Wells Barney, Old Lyme, February 13, 1981 (LHS Archives).
44 Matilda Browne, Clark Voorhees House, c. 1905, Oil on board, 11 3/4 x 15 7/8", Lyme Historical Society; and Will Howe Foote, Summer Porch, Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 24 1/4", The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.
45 Mrs. Peter S. Fish (the artist's daughter), "Notes on C.G. Voorhees," April, 1981 (LHS Archives).
46 Voorhees was a member of the Salmagundi Club (beginning 1901), The Century Association (beginning 1906), the Allied Artists of America (1914 - 1921), and was a founding member of the non-profit, artists' cooperative, Grand Central Art Galleries (beginning 1922).
47 The Stockbridge Art Association held its first summer exhibition in 1910 in the Stockbridge casino. During the 1920s, the group moved to the new Berkshire Playhouse. Assisted by Grand Central Art Galleries, the Association greatly expanded its list of exhibiting artists to include such figures as Edward Potthast, Charles Warren Eaton, Leonard Ochtman, and Gardner Symons. In 1912 one of Clark Voorhees' landscapes (title and location unknown), was selected by the casino's company to form the nucleus of what was to become the "Stockbridge Collection." Stockbridge Art Association Exhibition Catalogues, 1910 - 1932, and undated, unidentified newspaper clipping "Stockbridge Annual Meeting of Casino" (Historical Room, Stockbridge [Mass.] Library Association).
48 Fish, "Notes on C.G. Voorhees."
49 Clark Voorhees to his daughter, Florence (Mrs. Peter S. Fish), January 25, 1933 (photocopy in LHS Archives).
50 The [New York] Evening Post, August 9, 1919, Magazine, p. 10.
51 The Hartford Courant, August 5, 1923, Sunday Magazine, p. 7.

About the author

Barbara J. MacAdam is the Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College. She is the author of American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art; Looking for America: Prints of Rural Life from the 1930s and 1940s; Marks of Distinction: Two Hundred Years of American Drawings and Watercolors from the Hood Museum of Art, 1769 - 1969; and Winter's Promise: Willard Metcalf in Cornish, New Hampshire, 1909 - 1920.


Resource Library editor's note:

The above text was reprinted in Resource Library on October 22, 2009, with permission of the Florence Griswold Museum of Art, which was granted to TFAO on August 5, 2009.

This essay appeared in a catalogue entitled Clark G. Voorhees, 1871 - 1933, which accompanied an exhibition of the same name that was on view at the Lyme Historical Society, Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut, June 13 - August 30, 1981.

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation Tammi Flynn of the Florence Griswold Museum and Shana Herb Johannessen for their help concerning permissions for reprinting the above text.

RL readers may also enjoy:

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Florence Griswold Museum in Resource Library.

Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. TFAO neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History. Individual pages in this catalogue will be amended as TFAO adds content, corrects errors and reorganizes sections for improved readability. Refreshing or reloading pages enables readers to view the latest updates.

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2009 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.