Clips from the "Lyme Artists" Film
In the summer of 1999, two 16-mm film canisters labeled “Lyme Artists” were found in the basement of the Old Lyme home of Mary Griswold Steube, a longtime local resident who had recently died last. The Museum purchased the reels of black and white film from the estate sale auction. The vintage film revealed 25 silent minutes of Lyme and Old Lyme during the early 1930s. The identity of the filmmaker is still a mystery. Although in very good condition, the Museum had the film cleaned, copied, and digitized to be used on this website. Despite being identified at “Lyme Artists,” the film contains a great deal of footage that reveals the agrarian aspects and natural beauty of Lyme as well as the artists’ continued fascination with it.
The film has been segmented into short edited clips to be viewed on the website.
The movie opens with the Lyme artist George Bruestle painting in his studio. It continues with Mr. and Mrs. Bruestle and their dogs enjoying the beautiful setting of his house overlooking the Eight Mile River in Lyme. Note the 360-degree panorama of the river and hills around their home revealing the more open landscape of the 1930s.
The next sequence shows the figurative artist Ivan Olinsky painting his daughter Tosca (also an artist) in his studio in Lyme. The Olinskys come outside the studio to greet the artist Edward Volkert and the film shows the Olinsky house on Grassy Hill Road.
Percival Rosseau, known nationally for his paintings of hunting dogs, plays with his many beloved hounds at his home on Grassy Hill Road. He often painted pointers and setters in profile, positioning them on the wooden platform upon which he sits in the opening scene.
Florence Griswold makes her first appearance accompanied by a woman, currently unidentified, at the entrance to the Lyme Art Gallery. Miss Florence served as its manager during its early years.
George Bruestle is painting once again, this time outdoors. Judging from the foliage, the season is summer.
Edward Volkert is shown painting in his studio. Note the unusual panels inset into his studio windows. The artist reportedly changed these with each season!
An unidentified farmer (with white shirt and tie) hitches a yoke to a team of oxen and then displays his mastery of moving these draft animals around. Volkert sets up his easel and paints the oxen in the farmer’s field. Volkert and the farmer (now shown wearing overalls) pose astride their mutually regarded subject.
Scenes of Volkert’s house and studio on Sterling City Road in Lyme overlooking a broad valley. Volkert hams for the camera in a way that suggests perhaps he knows the camera operator personally.
Opera singer Anita Higgins poses as a nymph bathing in the Beaver Brook in Lyme. Her husband, the artist Eugene Higgins, is shown in his studio. Anita and Eugene frolic around their property, enthusiastically enjoying Lyme’s country life with their farm animals and pets. The Higgins’ were ardent nudists. Guests to their property announced their arrival by ringing a bell at the entrance by the road.
Edward Volkert and publicist Charles Norwood (?) walk out of the Lyme Art Gallery followed by Florence Griswold and another unidentified woman. Patrons visit the gallery. Miss Florence walks toward camera, wearing her characteristic flowing scarf and high collar dress of the late Victorian period.
The camera pans across the Florence Griswold House and then shows Florence Griswold by the back door as she contentedly strokes her cats. She then strolls in her garden picking flowers and gesturing toward unseen cats. With all the attention lavished on the farm animals, dogs, and cats of the Colony, the film ends, appropriately, by focusing on two geese in a barnyard being admired by Miss Florence.
Special thanks to the National Film Preservation Foundation, San Francisco, and the Video Services of Mystic Seaport, Mystic, Connecticut.