Beginning in the first decades of the nineteenth century, artists and writers were drawn to the pristine beauty of north New Hampshire’s natural wonders: majestic peaks in the Franconia and Presidential ranges crowned by Mount Washington, the highest summit in the northeast; Crawford, Pinkham, and Franconia “Notches”—dramatic, narrow passages between the mountain walls; and spectacular waterfalls such as the Flume Gorge. Early landscapists including Thomas Doughty, Thomas Cole, and Benjamin Champney, later masters Winslow Homer and George Inness, and twentieth-century modernists such as William Zorach, were all inspired by the singular topography of the White Mountains. Indeed, the list of painters who went there reads like a “who’s who” of American art.
Drawn from the MFA’s rich collection, “Art of the White Mountains” examines the allure of the area for artists for over a century and a half. Works ranging from exquisite, intimate sketches of the region’s flora and geological formations to panoramic vistas of the expansive landscape will be featured in a selection of oil paintings, drawings, prints, watercolors, sketchbooks, photographs, and rare books. This varied material offers the opportunity to consider the changing stylistic approaches as they evolved over time from Hudson River School painters to early modernists, the influence of legends or history on choice of subject, and issues such as the rise of tourism in the area and its impact on artists.