Connecticut Artists of the 20th Century
The Connecticut art scene during the early 20th century blossomed with creativity and inspiration. In close proximity to New York and Boston, art colonies in Lyme and Cos Cob thrived during the turn of the century, and Norwich led the way in the training of young professional artists who all went on to local, regional, and national acclaim. Slater Memorial Museum established early relationships with artist-academics affiliated with Yale, the University of Connecticut, Connecticut College and Hartford Art School.
The Norwich Art School was founded in 1890, two years after the Slater Memorial Museum, to make the museum’s collections more useful to the school and the community. Classes first met in the museum building, where the cast gallery provided an excellent laboratory for “drawing from the antique,” the term used to describe ancient sculpture. As the art school classes became more popular, it was decided that the art school deserved a building of its own. The Art School director at the time, Ozias Dodge, and his wife, Hannah, called on Colonel Charles Converse, a wealthy manufacturer with a strong interest in art and the Academy. His donation made the Converse Art Building, and regularly changing temporary exhibitions, a reality.
The Art School’s first director was Irene Weir, a member of the American artistic dynasty that included Julian Alden Weir. Ms. Weir was followed by a succession of remarkable artist-scholars who made the Academy’s Norwich Art School into the equivalent of a junior college for art majors.