Robert. S. Duncanson: Lancaster, New Hampshire (1862)

Robert. S. Duncanson: Lancaster, New Hampshire (1862)

Benjamin Champney: Mount Chocorua, New Hampshire (1858)

Benjamin Champney: Mount Chocorua, New Hampshire (1858)

Art of the White Mountains at the MFA, Boston

Exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA) focuses on the allure of New Hampshire’s White Mountains for 19th- and 20th-century artists. From July 14, 2012, through July 7, 2013.

Source: Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA)

This scenic journey to the White Mountains features more than 30 works by a “who’s who” of American artists inspired by the region’s singular topography, including Thomas Cole, Winslow Homer, and George Inness. Drawn primarily from the MFA’s rich collection, the works range from intimate sketches of the region’s flora and geological formations, to panoramic vistas of the expansive landscape as seen in a selection of oil paintings and works on paper—drawings, prints, watercolors, sketchbooks, photographs, and rare books—a number of which will be rotated during the course of the exhibition. These are displayed in the Museum’s Edward and Nancy Roberts Family Gallery in the MFA’s Art of the Americas Wing through July 7, 2013. The exhibition is sponsored by Northern Trust.

Beginning in the first decades of the 19th century, artists and writers were captivated by the pristine beauty of northern New Hampshire: its majestic peaks in the Franconia and Presidential ranges crowned by Mount Washington, the highest summit in the northeast; dramatic, narrow passages between the mountain walls known as Crawford, Pinkham, and Franconia “Notches”; and spectacular waterfalls such as Flume Gorge. The White Mountains inspired numerous notable landscapists, among them Cole, Thomas Doughty, and Benjamin Champney; later masters, such as Homer and Inness; and 20th-century modernists, including William Zorach. The exhibition examines the allure of the White Mountains for artists over the course of nearly two centuries, beginning with Cole’s 1828 sketch "Near Conway, New Hampshire" (on view in the first rotation) and an 1828 sketchbook by Henry Cheever Pratt, who accompanied Cole on this trip and who drew Cole’s image on one of the pages. Also featured will be Homer’s "The Artist In The Country" (For Appleton’s Journal of Literature, Science, and Art, June 19, 1869).

Art of the White Mountains marks the first showing of the Museum’s newly acquired painting Lancaster, New Hampshire (1862) by Robert. S. Duncanson. It was purchased in November 2011, along with 66 other works by African American artists, from collector John Axelrod, an MFA Honorary Overseer and long-time supporter of the Museum. Also making its debut in the MFA’s Art of the Americas Wing will be Champney’s painting "Mount Chocorua, New Hampshire" from 1858, which illustrates the imposing mountain that lies south of the Presidential Range. New Hampshire-born Champney’s long association with the White Mountains region made him one of its most popular artists. He first visited in 1838, but beginning in 1850, Champney regularly spent his summers around North Conway, purchasing a house nearby in 1853. White Mountain subjects dominate his work, created using a tight, smoothly painted technique reminiscent of the Hudson River School. Both Champney Falls and Champney Brook near Mount Chocorua are named after him.

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