The Cooley Gallery Announces a New Exhibition: All Flowers

  • OLD LYME, Connecticut
  • /
  • April 08, 2011

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Wilson H. Irvine (1869 - 1936) Still Life with Petunias, signed, Irvine, lower left, oil on canvas, 24" x 27"
The Cooley Gallery


The Cooley Gallery is proud to announce an exhibition and sale of historic and contemporary floral paintings in All Flowers. The exhibition opens with the forsythia on April 23rd and runs through May 28th, 2011.  Peonies, tulips, lilies, laurel, daisies, poppies, petunias, coreopsis, hibiscus, roses, sunflowers and water lilies will be blooming on the walls of the gallery at 25 Lyme Street in Old Lyme.

"One of the first paintings I bought many years ago was a sumptuous still-life of roses -- it was sexy, rich and beautiful," owner Jeff Cooley reminisces.  "For all these years since, I have been drawn to artists' sometimes intimate, always joyful, depictions of flowers whether in the garden or in a vase." 

Flowers have enhanced moods and facilitated communications from time immemorial. In this exhibition, antique American still-lifes hang alongside newly completed works from artists all around the country.  The color and abundance depicted in these paintings are reminiscent of fresh spring gardens, lazy summer afternoons and leisurely walks along well-tended garden paths. 

Frederick Judd Waugh (1861-1940) was famous for his dramatic depictions of crashing surf. The still-life in All Flowers painted in 1925 has a familiar movement and drama with a sense of solidity and permanence even though, like a wave on the ocean, the subject’s life is fleeting.

Frederick M. Fenetti (1854-1915) Still Life with Roses, signed lower right, oil on canvas, 14" x 10"
The Cooley Gallery

A very well-known artist and member of the Old Lyme art colony was Wilson Irvine (1869-1936). Irvine studied at the Art Institute in Chicago and came to New York to further his education. On a visit to Lyme in 1914, he decided this was where he would paint for the rest of his life. Still-life with Petunias evokes the anticipation of summer with its multi-colored blooms set in a white vase atop a vividly patterned table cloth.

Emil Carlsen (1853-1932) got on the train to Lyme and, because of a language barrier, ended up in Lyme Rock, Connecticut which he liked well enough not to find the colony he originally set out for.  Still-life with Roses and Pomegranates is a still-life of abundance with the round red forms of the pomegranates anchoring the soft pink roundness of the pink roses above.  For Christians the pomegranate was often used as a symbol of redemption and eternal life and the pink rose was often a symbol of the Virgin Mary.  For Persephone the pomegranate ensured half her life would be spent in the underworld.

A lesser-known painter with a still life in this exhibition is Raymond A. Ewing (1891-1975). Ewing was a student of the famous Rockport artist Aldro Hibbard. When Ewing was not out painting landscapes he was making a living doing illustrations or painting this naturally composed vase of Sunflowers in 1965.

London born Walter Paris (1842-1906) spent most of his life in California but the painting exhibited in All Flowers is reminiscent of the Pre-Raphaelite movement in England. The artist’s palette and the pattern of the water lilies evoke the style of William Morris.

A true American devotee to the Pre-Raphaelite movement was Fidelia Bridges (1834-1923). Bridges made a name for herself creating highly detailed and very natural compositions for greeting cards. Careful studies of wildflowers and distant birds overhead were Bridges’ specialty.

Nellie Littlehale Murphy (1867-1941) was born on the west coast but moved to Lexington, Massachusetts and studied in Boston with Joseph de Camp.  In Zinnias, a shiny black footed vase plays host to a riot of zinnias against a draped background.

Frederick Judd Waugh (1861 - 1940) Still Life, signed "Waugh" lower right, oil on panel, 14" x 18"
The Cooley Gallery

The complexity of realistically portrayed still-life often prefers a small sized canvas. One of the larger canvases in this exhibition is a vibrant painting of Peonies by Bridgeport born Mary Nicholena McCord (1864-1955). McCord exhibited her first painting at the National Academy of Design in 1916. The artist never married and bequeathed her entire estate to charities around her native Bridgeport.

Barbara Novak (b. 1928) is perhaps best known as prolific author and preeminent historian of American art and culture. Less well-known are her highly personal and spontaneous watercolors of the flowers her author husband Brian O’Doherty (Patrick Ireland) buys for her on the streets of their native New York. 

All Flowers will be on view through May 28th but know that at anytime we will likely have "fresh flowers" in our inventory.



The Cooley Gallery
25 Lyme St.
Old Lyme, Connecticut
About The Cooley Gallery

Founded in 1981 and located in the heart of historic Old Lyme, the Cooley Gallery specializes in fine American paintings from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, including the Hudson River School, American Impressionism, and select contemporary artists. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10am to 5pm. Please call (860) 434-8807 or visit for additional information. The Cooley Gallery is located at 25 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT 06371

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