George Laurence Nelson
A considerable amount of art scholarship comes from dedicated people, passionate about a specific artist, region, or school they feel compelled to write about. Often, they feel that their focus has been unfairly neglected by recognized scholars. The area in Litchfield County, Connecticut, surrounding Kent, emerged as an art colony for many painters around the beginning of the 20th century but had never been formally acknowledged or legitimized by a survey book or museum exhibition. A collector, dealer, researcher, and writer named Robert Austin lived in this part of Connecticut for many years and, through his persistence, uncovered many artists and relatives of artists who motivated him to write a very insightful and exhaustive book entitled Artists of the Litchfield Hills. This effort spawned a museum exhibition and contributed to a more cohesive view of these painters. George Laurence Nelson was a key figure in this group and a highly recognized artist, specializing primarily in female figural and floral still-life subjects. I was marginally familiar with Nelson’s name and work but had no context within which I could consider him more fully. On one of my first visits to Austin’s home in 1996, I was shown a number of Nelson’s works, but only one that was as early as this piece, dated 1906, and so sensitively combined both of the artist’s passions, the female and the flower. To me it was then—and still is today—the best Nelson I’ve seen.