The Hudson River was not the only subject matter for the Hudson River School of Art. Many of these artists, including Thomas Cole, traveled to the White Mountains of New Hampshire to paint more northern landscapes.
The earliest artists were drawn to the White Mountains because of their irrefutable “sublime” quality. (Read more about this in our blog post: The Hudson River School of Art.) A devastating mudslide in 1826, called The Willey Tragedy, brought attention to the powerful nature and wild environment that was integral to the White Mountains. This feature was very attractive to romantic landscape painters, so they began to swarm to the north east.
Benjamin Chapney was one of these traveling artists. He fell in love with the White Mountains and made his home in North Conway so that he could continue painting scenes of this American wilderness. He opened his studio up to tourists and other artists, and this brought even more painters to the north. In Benjamin Chapney’s autobiography, he wrote, “The meadows and the banks of the Saco were dotted all about with white umbrellas in great numbers.” (Sixty Years’ Memory of Art and Artists) White umbrellas were a staple for plein air painters, and the draw of artists to artists fueled this region’s growing popularity. North Conway is arguably one of America’s first artist colonies.
Just as the style of the Hudson River School died off over time, so did the popularity for painting northern New Hampshire. Eric and Lauren bring this work back into fashion not only with their painting style and subject matter, but with their lifestyle as well. This couple moved out of New York and created a home in Jackson, New Hampshire, to be near the source of their inspiration. Their connection to history is shown by their participation in The Jackson Five, a show hosted by The Jackson Historical Society, which will exhibit work of five artists who have lived in Jackson throughout history.
Eric and Lauren’s show at The Art Place represents work that is beautifully representative of the White Mountain Art of the 19th century. Their paintings capture an untamed wilderness that still exists. They also strive to capture the same themes of the sublime, this time focusing on the fleeting status of our current natural world.