White Mountains in the Parlor: The Art of Bringing Nature Indoors

Long-term exhibition on view in the Society's new Governor John McLane Gallery.

During the 1800s the natural wonders of the White Mountains attracted artists, photographers, writers, tourists, and entrepreneurs to New Hampshire. The images and descriptions of the mountains that they created enriched people’s sensibilities and enhanced an appreciation of the landscape. During the summer, people visiting the White Mountains brought home paintings of the landscape as souvenirs, and during the winter residents of large cities, including New York, Boston, and Portland, toured art sales galleries, eager to acquire paintings of mountain scenery.  Artists’ depictions of the wonders of nature became mementos of summer travels and inspiring decorative elements for homes and galleries. 

During summer and fall each year American and European artists ventured into the mountains on a quest to capture elements of the grandeur and beauty of nature. Rambling through the notches, rivers, and meadows they made detailed sketches of scenes created by the changing play of light and atmosphere. Back in their city studios through the alchemy of talent, documentation, memory, and imagination they created beautiful and inspiring interpretations of the White Mountains for the enjoyment of eager customers. Some artists, like Benjamin Champney, eventually established seasonal homes and studios in the mountains where they could experience seemingly endless sources of inspiration.

Since the early 1900s, the New Hampshire Historical Society has collected paintings depicting the natural beauty, history, and local character of the many landscapes of New Hampshire. The 36 landscape paintings featured in this long-term exhibition reveal some of the stories and meanings of White Mountain scenery, of the 19th-century artists who depicted it, and of the people who acquired, owned, and cherished these paintings. 

New Hampshire Historical Society
30 Park Street
Concord, NH 03301

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