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William S. Robinson

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William S. Robinson
Lyme Art Colony
American, (September 15, 1861–January 11, 1945) In Lyme: Summers, 1905-1920; Permanently, 1921-1937
In his lifetime, William Robinson was the recipient of numerous awards and exhibition prizes. After his death in 1945, however, his name all but faded from the American art scene. Though at times he painted seascapes and maritime subjects in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and Monhegan, Maine, he was especially fond of , and skilled at, painting the Old Lyme hillsides and pasturelands, and laurel that grew along the banks of the Lieutenant River – subjects especially suited to his Impressionist palette and brushwork.

In his early career, Robinson developed his talents as a marine artist while he held a number of teaching positions. He taught at several Boston area schools during the early 1880s and from 1885-89 was an instructor at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore. He then travelled abroad and studied at the Academie Julian under Benjamin Constant and Jules Lefebvre. Robinson first exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1891, shortly after his return to the United States. In the 1890s he taught at the Drexel Institute, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and Columbia University’s Teachers College. He continued to exhibit his Barbizon-influenced landscapes and seascapes. Robinson told William Macbeth in 1893: "I do marines, that is surf and boat subjects, also Dutch fisher folk."

Beginning around 1905, Robinson made yearly journeys from New York to Old Lyme. He always stayed at the Florence Griswold House, working in a studio across the brook from the Lyme Art Association. Robinson was a charter member of this organization and later became its president. Additionally, he was president of the American Watercolor Society from 1914 through 1921 and a member of the National Arts Club, Salmagundi Club, and Lotos Club. He was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design in 1907 and a full academician in 1911.

His canvases received many awards, including honorable mentions at the Paris Exposition of 1900 and the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901; a bronze medal at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904; and silver medals at the 1910 International Exposition in Buenos Aires and the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. Robinson was also the recipient of a number of prizes from the National Academy of Design, Salmagundi Club, and Lyme Art Association. In 1925 one of his paintings of mountain laurel was awarded the Lyme Art Association’s Museum Purchase Prize and was given to the Cleveland Museum of Art.

In about 1921 Robinson seems to have moved to Old Lyme year-round, staying, as usual, in the Griswold House, until Miss Florence died in 1937. He lived in Biloxi, Mississippi, during the final years of his life.

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