Jules Turcas belonged to the first wave of artists at the Old Lyme Art Colony, a group that produced paintings in a style that has been referred to as the American Barbizon. He was born in Cuba and is first listed as a resident of New York City in 1893. In 1894, William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) produced a portrait of Turcas in Chase’s well-known 10th Street Studio. The finished painting depicts the young artist as a handsome and enigmatic figure, who’s dark and nearly indistinct features are echoed by the brown and black tonalities of the composition. This representation from over a century ago seems appropriate in present day, as both details of his life and examples of his artwork are surprisingly scarce.
Turcas was rediscovered to some extent in 1982 when the Lyme Historical Society and the Florence Griswold Museum published the exhibition catalogue, Old Lyme, The American Barbizon. It is known that he arrived in Old Lyme in 1902, and spent summers with his wife in Florence Griswold's home until the couple purchased their own on top of Grassy Hill in 1907. He exhibited with the colony for twelve consecutive seasons, and consistently received praise from reviewers of the annual Lyme exhibition.1 He exhibited at the National Academy of Design, the Century Association, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Design, while retaining memberships in a number of notable clubs.
1 Jeffrey Anderson, Old Lyme: The American Barbizon (Old Lyme: Lyme Historical Society, 1982), 48.
Text by Caitlin Murphy