White Mountain Painters 1834-1926
January 16, l999 through March 7, 1999
From January 18, 1999 through March 7, 1999 the Bruce Museum of Arts and Science presents the exhibition White Mountain Painters 1834-1926. On view are over thirty paintings of the White Mountains of New Hampshire that illustrate the beauty and grandeur of American landscape painting of the nineteenth century.
The White Mountains of New Hampshire have always been appreciated for their visual and inspirational splendor. In the nineteenth century, as access to the mountains became easier, artists began making the mountains a subject for their art. During this period the celebration of the American landscape became part of the intellectual ferment of the time. Poets such as John Greenleaf Whittler and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used the White Mountains for inspiration, and the majestic panoramas recorded by the White Mountain School provided a clear image of American landscape painting of the time.
Painters from the famous Hudson River School, many of whom visited and painted in the White Mountains, presented the landscape in a way that reflected a love of nature and a pride in country. This romantic approach to the wonders of nature survived the initial period of interest for the artists who painted in the White Mountains. While later works reflect other artistic influences, the visual impact of the White Mountains continued to challenge and inspire artists well into this century.
The splendor of the White Mountains first became known through the travels of wealthy amateur and patron Daniel Wadsworth of Hartford, Connecticut, who explored the area in 1826. It was through Wadsworth that the major Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole first visited and painted in the White Mountains a year later in 1827.
Benjamin Champney, considered the dean of the White Mountain School, was the first artist to maintain a home in the White Mountains. His book Sixty Years' Memories of Art and Artists presents an interesting account of his long career and the development of landscape painting in the area. Upon discovering the White Mountains and their visual charms, Champney commented that to him and his fellow artist John F. Densett "it was a new phase of nature for us, and it suited our mood.
As the art of the White Mountains moved further into the 20th century, a more eclectic style developed. The American art scene was more influenced by Impressionism and advanced artistic ideas from Europe. Several artists in White Mountain Painters 1834-1926 studied in Europe or felt the influence of people who had studied abroad. Daniel Santry, for example, was a follower of Camille Pissarro and spent time painting with him in France before returning to Boston and the White Mountains.
Other artists featured in the exhibition include Harrison Bird Brown, Willard Metcalf, John Ross Key, Daniel Santry, William F. Paskell, and a leading Boston landscapist, Alvan Fisher.
Above from top to bottom: Benjamin Champney, Mount Washington from the Intervale North Conway, 1865, oil on canvas, 24 x 38 1/2 inches; John Ross Key, Mount Washington Topped with First Snow in September from North Conway, 1873, oil on canvas, 12 1/2 x 26 inches
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and recent photographic images of the White Mountains.
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