White Mountain art is the body of work created during the 19th century by over four hundred artists who painted landscape scenes of the White Mountains of New Hampshire in order to promote the region and, consequently, sell their works of art.
In the early part of the 19th century, artists ventured to the White Mountains of New Hampshire to sketch and paint. Many of the first artists were attracted to the region because of the 1826 tragedy of the Willey family, in which nine people lost their lives in a mudslide. These early works portrayed a dramatic and untamed mountain wilderness. Dr. Robert McGrath describes a Thomas Cole (1801–1848) painting titled Distant View of the Slide that Destroyed the Willey Family thus: "... an array of broken stumps and errant rocks, together with a gathering storm, suggest the wildness of the site while evoking an appropriate ambient of darkness and desolation". The images stirred the imagination of Americans, primarily from the large cites of the northeast, who traveled to the White Mountains to view the scenes for themselves. Others soon followed: innkeepers, writers, scientists, and more artists. The White Mountains became a major attraction for tourists from the New England states and beyond. The circulation of paintings and prints depicting the area enabled those who could not visit, because of lack of means, distance, or other circumstance, to appreciate its beauty.
Transportation improved to the region; inns and later grand resort hotels, complete with artists in residence, were built. Benjamin Champney (1817–1907), one of the early artists, popularized the Conway Valley. Other artists preferred the Franconia area, and yet still others ventured to Gorham, Shelburne and the communities of the north. Although these artists all painted similar scenes within the White Mountains, each artist had an individual style that characterized his work. These landscape paintings in the Hudson River tradition, however, eventually fell out of favor with the public, and, by the turn of the century, the era for White Mountain art had ended.
Read more about White Mountain Art: The Willey Tragedy, Early Artists, Travel To The Region, Benjamin Champney and The Allure of North Conway, Later Artists, Grand Resort Hotels, Working in North Conway, Franconia, and Points North, Characteristics of The Artists, End of An Era, Gallery: Characteristics of The Artists, Notable White Mountain Artists
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