Editorial| Volume 8, ISSUE 6, P569-570, December 2022

Impressions of sleep

Published:November 12, 2022DOI:
      An art movement arose in France in the 1860s as a rebellion against the “norms” established by the Académie des Beaux-Arts which promoted artists who painted in studios and works of art that focused on portraits, religious themes, and history. The rebels, who included Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Paul Cézanne, Berthe Morisot, and Edgar Degas, painted scenes of ordinary people, and landscapes using quick brushstrokes paying particular attention to the way light impacted the scene. Instead of painting in studios, they painted at the location of the scene employing new pigments and colors with a palette that was light and bright.
      The work of these artists was often rejected at art exhibitions for being too unconventional. At the first exhibition organized by the rebels in 1874, one work, Claude Monet's Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant), was excoriated by an art critic in a piece called “The Exhibition of the Impressionists.” The term, as used by the critic, was derogatory, but quickly caught on as the name of the movement.
      The movement traveled to the United States in the 1880s, championed by Mary Cassatt and others who had visited Paris. The United States had been primed for the emergence of American Impressionism as early as the 1830s; Hudson River School artists were painting glorious landscapes. One of the hotbeds of American Impressionism was a boarding house owned by Florence Griswold in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Having heard of the beautiful nearby scenery, Henry Ward Ranger, an established landscape painter, arrived at the boarding house in 1899. Because of Ranger's reputation other young artists flocked to the boarding house and the Lyme Art Colony was formed. Child Hassam arrived in 1903, establishing the Colony as a hotbed of American Impressionism. Many artists arrived over the years, and some paid for their board by painting on the walls and doors of the boarding house (see Fig. 2)!
      The painting Woman Resting by the American Impressionist Lilian Westcott Hale (1880-1963) hangs in the Florence Griswold Museum (see Fig. 1). From afar it is clearly an image of a sleeping woman; on approaching the image it becomes fuzzy as one sees the quick brushstrokes and the wonderful soothing colors. It is an image of the painter's daughter, Nancy Hale, who at the time of this work (1942) was already an established author of novels and short stories. Lilian Westcott Hale was married to one of her teachers, the American Impressionist Philip Leslie Hale (1865–1931). Given that both her parents were Impressionists, it is not surprising that Nancy wrote a book about Mary Cassatt, the most famous female American Impressionist.
      Figure 1
      Fig. 1Woman Resting, ca. 1942, Lilian Westcott Hale (1880-1963). Oil on canvas. Florence Griswold Museum, Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. Credit for the journal cover image and the image above: Florence Griswold Museum.
      Figure 2
      Fig. 2Impressionist paintings on doors and panels of Florence Griswold's boarding house painted by guest artists. Credit for the photo image above: Meir Kryger.

      Declaration of Conflict of Interest

      The author has declared that he has no conflicts of interest to disclose.