California in 1900 was a plein air haven for artists, enhanced by sunshine, coastal mountains, rocky shorelines and relaxed lifestyle. The Impressionist painters gathered in seaside art colonies at Monterey and Laguna Beach, artistically competing for painted records of stimulating colorful scenery in various stages of light and shadow.
Old Lyme, in Connecticut, was a popular place for many artists, especially those who had studied and worked with the French Impressionists and were looking for somewhere in the United States offering similar landscape subjects.
During the last half of the nineteenth century and early years of the twentieth century there was a phenomenal growth of American art colonies. This growth has been often discussed in conversation and history books, but there is insufficient published material to fully explain the background of their establishment and their place in American history. A few publications have occasionally provided detailed information on specific colonies (see the bibliography), but none has yet to adequately explore the entire range of America's art colonies. The subject is interesting, but the required research is perhaps too elusive and overwhelming to pursue, as opposed to that of more general subjects such as American Impressionism, American Modernism, and American Realism.
The term "art colony" has become a descriptive but somewhat vague notion in the American language, sometimes referring to a place where artists once gathered and worked, sometimes to a place where the one-time art colony has evolved into a community in which art and artists are vital to the economy, and, more currently, a place where artists and art galleries are concentrated in a par-