East Hampton is one of the earliest art colonies in American History.
In the early twentieth century, the Gardiner Mill Cottage was the home and studio for artist, Edward Percy Moran (1862-1935). Percy Moran, as he was known, was the son of Edward Moran (1829-1901), one of the most important marine artists of the nineteenth century and the nephew of Thomas Moran (1837-1926) who lived a short distance away. It was for this reason that it was decided that the Gardiner Mill Cottage Gallery would house an important collection of works relating to the history of East Hampton.
Soon after the Civil War, a younger generation of artists began to leave their hometowns and traveled to the academies of London, Munich or Paris to broaden their studies. Returning to America, they settled in cosmopolitan capitals that lined the East Coast. It was in these cities that art galleries sprung up, trying to supply a wealthy clientele of a new hobby in art collecting.
Many of these new art collectors were founders of the summer colonies that were blooming along Long Island's south and north shores. These summer visitors purchased paintings of East Hampton and surrounding areas as souvenirs of their seasonal visits to picturesque East Hampton.
By 1883, East Hampton was singled out by Charles Burr Todd, in Lippincott's Magazine, as the American Barbizon because it offered many of the attractions artists could find in Europe. This included windmills, houses with thatched roofs, sweeping meadows, sandy beaches, wonderful light and a bucolic lifestyle. It is these things that continue to draw artists to the East End of Long Island.
The Gardiner Mill Cottage Gallery exhibits paintings of East Hampton from 1870-1900. Our permanent collection includes works by Thomas Moran, Edward Lamson Henry, Walter Clark, Hamilton Hamilton, Robert Swain Gifford, Henry Farrer, William Crothers Fitler, Hamilton King, Howard Russell Butler, Alfred Wordsworth Thompson, Leon Moran, Bruce Crane, Mary Nimmo Moran, Arthur Turnbull Hill, Thomas Rathbone Manley, Henry Golden Death, William Sartain, Edward Gay, Percy Moran and other important academically trained artists who painted in East Hampton during the period.