"To Look on Nature"
March 1 - September 2, 2011
Paintings by Jay Hall Connaway from the Marjorie Benson Osborne Collection
Marble Court Balcony
On July 13, 1798, English poet William Wordsworth penned the phrase, "to look on nature," in his poem Lines Written a Few Miles
above Tintern Abbey, a portion of which Jay Hall Connaway (1893-1970) carried around in the back pocket of his painting overalls.
Like Wordsworth, Connaway was deeply affected by nature and its many moods, noting in his journals that "the Mood is the big thing.
That is what I try to catch." Connaway, a lifelong student of nature, belonged to a generation of artists who presented the landscape
as peaceful and timeless in the face of modernity, ensuring that this image of New England maintained a prominent role in the
American imagination. Born in Indiana, Connaway studied in New York under William Merritt Chase and in Paris at the Académie Julian,
returning to New England to pursue his career.
The Connaways lived in Monhegan, Maine, for 17 years before moving to southern Vermont in 1947. They settled in Dorset,
and later Pawlet, where Connaway was active in the local art community, giving lessons and painting demonstrations in Dorset,
Pawlet, and at the Southern Vermont Art Center in Manchester. Among his students was Marjorie Osborne, now 101-year- old.
Marjorie Osborne first became interested in Connaway's art in the early 1930s as an art student in Boston, where she saw his
paintings at the Vose Gallery. Nearly twenty years would pass, however, before the two would meet in the 1950s in Vermont. In
the early to mid-1950s, Osborne spent her summers in southern Vermont taking art courses. After learning that Connaway had a
studio in nearby Pawlet, she began studying with him during the summer, and she became a close family friend and loyal patron.