Friday, March 13, 2009

Something "New" in Miss Florence's Bedroom

For many of us docents who spend time in Miss Florence's house, there has been something missing lately. It is the lovely statuette of "Jessie Wilson" by Bessie Potter Vonnoh which is normally on the fireplace mantel in Miss Florence's bedroom. This bronze and another by Vonnoh entitled "Standing Nude" (usually in the artist's bedroom) are currently part of the exhibition "Bessie Potter Vonnoh: Sculptor of Women," organized by the Cincinnati Art Museum.

This show was on view at the Florence Griswold Museum last fall and is now at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Alabama. It will travel on to the Cincinnati Art Museum this summer.

Vonnoh was a popular member of the Lyme Art Colony and a good friend of Florence Griswold's. It is believed that the two bronzes were gifts from Vonnoh to Miss Florence.

The sculpture of "Jessie Wilson" (the daughter of President Woodrow Wilson) is a favorite of mine and I have missed seeing it. But several weeks ago, I walked into Miss Florence's bedroom and--what to my wondering eyes should appear?--there was another work by Bessie Potter Vonnoh.

This "new" bronze is from a private collection and is another cast of Vonnoh's "Standing Nude." It was discovered several years ago in upstate New York. The owners are loaning it to the Florence Griswold while the museum's two Vonnoh sculptures are on the road. And the privately owned "Standing Nude" will remain on the fireplace mantel until next fall when "Jessie Wilson" returns home.

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