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White Mountains in September, North Conway, New Hampshire

Accession Number
1895.57

Title
White Mountains in September, North Conway, New Hampshire

Artist(s)
Sylvester Phelps Hodgdon

Object Creation Date
1853

Medium & Support
oil on canvas

Dimensions
19 15/16 in x 30 ⅛ in (50.64 cm x 76.52 cm);25 ⅝ in x 35 ¾ in (65.09 cm x 90.81 cm)

Credit Line
Bequest of Henry C. Lewis

Label copy
March 28, 2009
During the nineteenth century, the White Mountains of New Hampshire stirred the imagination of many Americans. The region became famous after the Willey Family tragedy in 1826, in which nine people lost their lives in an avalanche caused by mudslides; their home was left standing when they hastily fled, and an open bible was found inside on a table. This poignant event became a subject in literature, art, and scientific journals, reinforcing contemporary notions of the country’s dramatic and untamed mountain wildernesses. The White Mountains subsequently grew to be a major tourist attraction and a magnet for artists. Mt. Washington, a 6,228-foot peak named after the first president of the United States, was one of the highlights of the region. It was one of the most recognizable places in America after John Kensett exhibited a painting of it in 1851 that was reproduced as a lithograph and distributed to more than 13,000 people. In Hodgdon’s view of this iconic site, the forbidding mountain looms over the domesticated valley below, populated only by a small haywain and some sheep. He often set up dramatic contrasts between dark and light in his paintings, as here, and this autumn scene allowed him also to capture the transition from summer to winter.

Subject matter
“White Mountains” was a popular subject amongst 19th century Americans, who, stirred by the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, wanted patriotic emblems of an optimistic and expanding nation. Using the popular tenets of the sublime and the picturesque, Hodgdon juxtaposes an awe-inspiring snow-capped mountain in the distance with a lush valley just beginning to show evidence of a fading summer.

Physical Description
Landscape with trees in foreground, valley in middle ground dotted with minute figures of sheep and a farmer with a team of oxen pulling well-filled haywain. Mountains in distance with a snow-capped mountain in center background.

Primary Object Classification
Painting

Primary Object Type
landscape

Collection Area
Western

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
Figures
Landscapes
New Hampshire
Workers
carts
farmers (people in agriculture)
field
fields (ornament areas)
figures (representations)
hay (material)
landscapes (environments)
mountains
oxen
seasons
trees
valleys (landforms)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved