In 1976 at age 63, Elisabeth Gordon Chandler founded Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, which later was accredited as a college and renamed Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. She was inspired to do so because at that time, representational art and the traditional education of artists were disappearing in the Western world.
As a young girl, Elisabeth trained as a professional harpist and became an accomplished performer. Later she studied sculpture with Edmondo Quattocchi and anatomy under Robert Beverly Hale at the Art Students League in New York City. Over her long career she received many awards and honors, notable among them The Thomas R. Proctor Prize from the National Academy of Design; the 1992 Silver Medal and Citation from the National Sculpture Society; The 1982 Gold Medal from the Allied Artists of America; The 1971 Gold Medal from the National Arts Club; the Governor’s Arts Award from the State of Connecticut; and an Honorary Doctorate from Saint Joseph’s College in 2001.
Chandler’s sculpture is held in many private and public collections including St. Patrick’s Cathedral; the National Academy of Design; National Sculpture Society; Old State House in Hartford; Fairfield University; The Paul Mellon Art Center; The British Museum; Columbia University School of Law; Princeton University and Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts.
She was married and widowed twice; first to Robert Chandler and later to Laszlo “Laci” de Gerenday. Her life was filled with a passion for music, sculpting and teaching. Elisabeth Gordon Chandler is properly described as Renaissance woman who firmly but gently led by the example of her own principled life, and who shared with others her boundless generosity and dedication.
As its founder, Chandler set a course for the Academy and College with its mission to “provide the best education in drawing, painting, (illustration) and sculpture through study of the history, traditions, and principles of the fine arts, thereby establishing a comprehensive foundation for the development of the artist.” She remained active as a sculptor, Professor of Sculpture, and trustee of the College she founded until the very end of her life on November 29, 2006 at age 93.