April 27, 2017

Lyme Academy College Donates Historic Document Collection to Lyme Art Association

Elisabeth Gordon Chandler at work.

OLD LYME — Yesterday Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts made a formal presentation of a collection of historic documents and original exhibition catalogs to the Lyme Art Association (LAA.) The event took place at the LAA’s historic building on Lyme Street immediately prior to the opening of the Association’s A Show in Four Acts exhibition.

This remarkable collection was part of the estate of Elisabeth Gordon Chandler (1913-2006), who not only founded the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, but was also previously president and a long-time member of the Lyme Art Association. The Archives Committee of Lyme Academy College has spent several years assembling and preparing this gift of history to the Lyme Art Association.

The collection being donated includes a comprehensive collection of Lyme Art Association exhibition catalogs including a 1909 8th annual exhibition pamphlet listing the artists Childe Hassam and Willard Metcalf and also, a 1921 20th annual exhibition booklet, which was the inaugural exhibit in the new Charles A. Platt designed gallery. In addition, there are catalogs of the spring watercolor exhibits, which began in 1925, along with the autumn exhibitions, beginning in 1933.

Many letters and documents related to Elisabeth Gordon Chandler’s time as Lyme Art Association president from 1975-1978 and tell of her productive time during a transformative era in the Association’s history. Important documents relate to the ‘Goodman Presentation Case’ of 1928, a collection of 35 small artworks by early Lyme Art Association members. An original copy of Charles A. Platt’s “General Specifications for the Art Gallery” of July 1920 is included with this collection, which gives a detailed outline of the plans for the gallery.

Elisabeth Gordon Chandler

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts (originally named Lyme Academy of Fine Arts) was founded by members of the Lyme Art Association in 1976 during the time Chandler was President. The school was based on preserving the time-honored traditions and disciplines of training in the fine arts.  Founded as an Academy, it became an accredited College in 1996, and in 2014 became a College of the University of New Haven (UNH), when UNH acquired the College.

Lyme Art Association dates back to 1902, when a group of tonalist painters, led by the New York artist Henry Ward Ranger (1858-1916), were asked to hold a two-day exhibition in August at Old Lyme’s Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library. The artwork exhibited consisted entirely of landscapes depicting the local countryside, painted while they boarded at the home of Florence Griswold (1850-1937). It is believed that Lyme Art Association is the nation’s oldest continuously exhibiting art group in the country.

A nationally recognized portrait sculptor, Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, was a regular exhibitor at the Lyme Art Association, and she became vice-president in 1974 and, president in 1975. With a goal of obtaining tax-exempt status for the association, and continuing the teaching and traditions of representational art, she set to work to create an art school in the basement of the gallery building.

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