American artist Walter Griffin, friend of William Singer, is featured in ‘Landscapes & Legends’ exhibition

By Daniel Fulco, Ph.D., Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Curator
To mark the special exhibition, Landscapes & Legends of Norway: William Singer & His Contemporaries (on view through Sept. 17), we hope that you enjoy this painting in our collection. If you visit the museum, this work is on view in the exhibition.


Walter Griffin (American, 1861–1935)
Autumn Afternoon at Boigneville, 1911
Oil on canvas
24″h x 29.875″w
Collection of Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
Gift of Anna Brugh Singer, A0584 49.0026

Autumn Afternoon at Boigneville is a quiet, peaceful landscape representing numerous trees (possibly birches) in a clearing, not unlike those found in William Singer’s paintings. On the right, a lone, almost undiscernable figure stands under one tree, an addition that we do not usually observe in Singer’s works. American Impressionist Walter Griffin’s use of lush, dark greens, contrasted with swaths of yellow and brown, suggest reflected sunlight and fall foliage, both indicative of the season.

A friend of the Singers, American Impressionist Walter Griffin, like Willard Metcalf (1858–1925), had a significant influence on William Singer’s technique, especially the use of dots and swaths of color to paint his landscapes. Along with fellow artists Childe Hassam (1859–1935) and Henry Ward Ranger (1858–1916), Griffin was one of the leaders of the Old Lyme Art Colony in Connecticut. Griffin and Singer first met at Monhegan Island, Maine, in 1900, an area popular with artists for its steep bulkheads and beautiful scenery. Like Singer, Griffin studied under academic painter Jean-Paul Laurens (1838–1921) and also chose to focus on landscape painting. In 1908, Griffin traveled with the Singers throughout Europe and visited Norway, where he and William painted the fjords, steep mountains, and the Jostedalsbreen Glacier. Griffin remained in Europe, living in Boigneville (a small town in northern France), but in 1915, he returned to Portland, Maine, and painted numerous works nearby.

Singer was also very kind to Griffin and assisted his friend financially at times during his career. As Singer wrote:

…if at any time, Walter, you get in a tight corner, let me know and I will help you out even though the Government has taken just half my income this year (cited in Helen Schretlen, American Impressionist: William H. Singer Jr., 1868–1943, Zwolle: Waanders, 2008, p. 38).

Griffin detail

Detail of figure under tree
This WeekendArt is sponsored by Mrs. Derwood B. Bousum