Greenwich, Connecticut is known for one thing: the ‘one percenters’ who reside there. The Johnny-come-lately hedge fund traders whose firms are headquartered there may occupy some of the multi-million dollar mansions that line the wooded enclaves, but they’re not the ones who have made this southern Connecticut coastal landing point as exclusive as it is. No, the history of Greenwich is pure blue blood. Private, for-hire, police forces patrol entire neighbourhoods with deliberately narrow roads … all the better to slow down potential getaway cars. Generations are handed down palatial homes and country club memberships. Thankfully, the general public is the beneficiary of one such estate: The Bruce Museum, the former home and property of a wealthy 19th century textile merchant and member of the New York Cotton Exchange.
The museum and its park are dedicated to art, history and science, and attracted members of the well known Cos Cob School (named for a picturesque harbour town a few miles north), an important part of the history of American painting. The core collection is made up of these paintings, and others.
Alfred Sisley retrospective
The Bruce Museum is unlike other museums of its size and stature. Thanks to generous patrons passionate about the arts, the museum punches above its weight. It’s currently hosting the only American exhibit of French impressionist, Alfred Sisley before it travels to Aix-en-Provence at the end of May.
The show features about fifty paintings from private collections and major museums in Europe and North America and represents the first retrospective presentation in the United States in over twenty years.
Sisley was born in Paris to British parents. He was meant to follow in his father’s footsteps and earn a decent living as a businessman. Except, when Sisley’s parents sent him to London to learn commerce, he instead studied the painting techniques of Constable and Turner. When he returned to Paris, Sisley took a studio and learned from contemporaries like Monet, Pissarro and Renoir.
Glimpse of rarefied locations
He adhered to the original concept of Impressionism through his career – painting “en plein air” often in bad weather to capture his landscape. While he never accomplished the fame of his friends, he had a remarkable and prolific career, painting more than 900 pictures during his lifetime. Sisley tended to focus on panoramic views of a location detailing different aspects of a location. For example, he painted the “Banks of the River Loing,” with views of the windmills, the old bridge and the village. One painting is an exploration of the bridge structure, whilst another, “Evening in Moret-Late October” moves the viewer to the riverside. Sisley is known for his skill to depict light and color; one can see the sparkle on the water as it moves toward the town.
As one would expect, The Bruce Museum has the latest technology, enabling visitors to access audio guides from personal smartphones.
The building is set on a park, surrounding a lovely lake, and plenty of green space for picnicking, Frisbee, or as the locals might … croquet.
You can reach the Bruce Park and Museum by Metro North and then a five-minute walk. Twice a year in October and May, they sponsor outdoor festivals featuring arts and crafts from around the world. After your fill of culture, have a wander up and down Greenwich Avenue, which offers a glimpse of what the other 99 percent are missing.