The Long Island Landscape 1865 - 1914: The Halcyon Years July 26 - September 20 1981
"By the turn of the century, Long Island has been designated as 'the garden of New York...the amusement park of America's greatest city.' Sportsmen could find pleasure in fishing in the Great South Bay of the Long Island Sound, attending polo matches at the Meadowbrook Club or playing on one of many fine golf courses, such as the one established at Shinnecock Hills in 1891. Horse races were regularly held at Sheepshead Bay and Gravesend in Brooklyn, and yachting was a popular pastime in Oyster Bay and Center Island, the home of the prestigious Seawanhaka-Corintian Yacht Club. Those interested in bathing could choose from a number of the Island's fine beaches including Coney Island, described by Ross as 'a city of the sea, with its bands, its noise, its touts, its shows, is merry-go-rounds and its cafés and saloons.' Or, for those who might consider such a scene vulgar, there was Manhattan Beach, where one could listen to opera and dine on fine food prepared by the best French chefs.
For those interested in history, Long Island could offer an array of historic sights to visit, including Walt Whitman's home and the memorial to Nathan Hale, both located in Huntington. The home of John Howard Payne could be found in East Hampton. Another popular sight was Camp Wyckoff at Montauk, where American troops rested upon their return from the Spanish-American War in 1898.
For people wishing to relocate on Long Island, there were good roads and fine rail service. In his book, Ross reported: 'Long Island is every year becoming an island of homes...it is drawing to itself all classes of the community.'
Like many others, artists were attracted to Long Island, which offered an unspoiled natural beauty that contrasted to the urban settings where many of them maintained studios. Its extensive coastline, broad expanses of open space and ever-changing skies provided endless possibilities for artistic compositions. Picturesque settings were to be found everywhere, as were more lively scenes, such as the Island's many amusement parks. Aside from the many accomplished artists who took advantage of these opportunities, many students flocked to the summer art schools established in various parts of the Island, such as Shinnecock Hills, where William Merritt Chase maintained a summer school from 1891 to 1902. During this tranquil period between the Civil War and World War I, these artists recorded both the peaceful nature of an unspoiled land and the excitement of those, from New York and elsewhere, who discovered it. The carefree attitude of this prosperous period of our nation's--and Long Island's--development is captured in the works of many artists, especially those represented in this exhibition."
--Ronald G. Pisano, past Director of the Parrish Art Museum