Roadside History: White Mountain School of Art

September 01. 2017 8:02PM

New Hampshire historical marker number: 38

Date established: 1966 in Conway.

Location: By the Intervale Scenic Vista visitor's center and rest stop, 3654 White Mountain Highway (routes 16/302), just south of the Bartlett-Conway town line.

What the sign says: "Since Thomas Cole's visit in 1828, New Hampshire's splendid scenery has been an enduring inspiration to countless landscape artists. From 1850 to 1890 this region was particularly favored for their easels. Benjamin Champney (1871- 1907), New Hampshire-born painter, described the glorious era in 'Sixty Years of Art and Artists.'"

The back story: Thomas Cole was founder of the style of painting that would later be called the Hudson River School. In New Hampshire, Cole's 1839 work, "A View of the Pass Called the Notch of the White Mountains," is perhaps the best and finest examples of early 19th-century White Mountain art. Catherine Campbell, in her reference New Hampshire Scenery, wrote, " 'The Notch of the White Mountains' (is a) magistral work, one of the undisputed masterpieces of White Mountain painting."

Two other early White Mountain painters were the Massachusetts artists Alvan Fisher (1792-1863) and Thomas Doughty (1793-1856). The works of these early artists depicted dramatic landscapes and man's relative insignificance compared to nature. "Fisher's turbulent view (of The Notch) also emphasizes the power of the mountains and the fragility of human enterprise." These paintings helped to promote the region at a time when the White Mountains were an unknown wilderness.

Because of the proximity of Boston to the White Mountains, artists from that city became the predominate visitors and artists to capture White Mountain views.

Sources: State of New Hampshire; Wikipedia.

ArtsEducationHistoryLifestyleWhite MountainsConway

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