American Art Colonies, 1850-1930: A Historical Guide to America's Original Art Colonies and Their Artists

By Steve Shipp | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Cos Cob Art Colony

Cos Cob was a popular painting site from the late 1880s through the 1920s, but for twenty-five years, from 1990 to 1915, it was not merely subject but also stimulus for some of the major art movements of the early twentieth century.

Susan G. Larkin

Cos Cob, a tiny Connecticut fishing village suburb of Greenwich, began its formation as an art colony in 1890 when American artists returning from France and Germany realized it offered a multitude of inspiring elements for landscapes and seascapes. As noted by writer Helen K. Fusscas, Cos Cob provided opportunity for group companionship at a charming outdoor location for summer sketching and painting. "Not only was it beautiful with a congenial place to board," she said, "but it was only 38 minutes from New York by express train which served the town 20 times a day." 1 Most visiting artists stayed at the Holley House, operated by Edward and Josephine Holley. Their daughter Constant later married figure and landscape painter * Elmer L. MacRae, who played a vital role in the development and continuation of the Cos Cob art colony. The Holley House (now the Bush-Holley House) is currently owned by the Greenwich Historical Society and is one of the community's most popular tourist attractions.

One of the early artist instructors at Cos Cob was * John Henry Twachtman, who established summer art classes there in 1890, attracting dozens of promising artists to the little community. Twachtman, who normally lived and worked at his farm near the Old Lyme art colony, spent the final winter of his life in Cos Cob in 1901-02, staying at the Holley House while his family was in Paris on an extended Vacation. 2

-19-

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