Though the Old Lyme art colony in southern Connecticut would be associated primarily with American Impressionism it was, in fact, founded by painter Henry Ward Ranger, who disliked this style of painting. He had studied in France and come under the influence of the Barbizon school, and would never approve of the Impressionistic technique of making rapid sketches "en plein air".
Ranger was born in Syracuse, New York and had left school to study in his father's studio. He then went to Europe where he encountered the methods of the Dutch painters called "The Hague School" and the French landscape painters of the Barbizon School. The Realism and Tonalism of both schools were pleasing to Ranger's aesthetic and he employed them throughout his career. While he would work outdoors, like the Impressionists, he did not hurriedly create his work. Instead he made detailed drawings which were translated to the painted canvas in the studio.
He returned to America in 1885 and had a successful solo exhibition in New York City in 1892. This period began a successful career as a painter and lecturer, and Ranger soon made the acquaintance of Florence Griswold, whose boarding house in Old Lyme, Connecticut would soon serve as the headquarters for the American Impressionist movement. Before that time, however Ranger had chosen it as home to the American Barbizon School, and began inviting other artists. Once Childe Hassam arrived this all changed, and Ranger would relocate to Noank on the Connecticut seacoast.
Ranger was an elected member of the National Academy of Design and the National Arts Club, he wrote and lectured often, and upon his death he bequeathed his estate to the National Academy to create a fund for the acquisition of works by American artists.