Saturday, September 28, 2019

Five Guys and a Mountain

One hundred sixty-five years ago today...

... five guys stopped by the side of a road to sketch Chocorua Lake and Mountain. The sketch is now at the Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York City. See this link for more info. You can also read about it in a book at the Conway Public Library. See this link.

For more on the book's cover painting see this link here

Here is the site of the pencil sketch today. The barn was moved back away from busy Route 16 only a few years ago. In this photograph you can see part of the original foundation of the barn to the right of the photo.

For more on this view, the stone walls and surrounding fields see our previous blog here. The Henney History Room of the Conway Public Library offers a free outreach program to local schools and community groups on this view and its history. For a somewhat different perspective on this view and how it has been preserved see this blog here.

A detail of the sketch shows four of the five artists (click on images to enlarge them).

This sketch is inscribed at the lower right "chicorua pond Sep 28./54" for September 28, 1854. Notice the spelling of Chocorua as chicorua. Directly below each of the figures are their names. Reading from left to right they are Edwards, Dodge, Ordway and Champney.

These would be Thomas Edwards (1795-1856), John Wood Dodge (1807-1893), Alfred Ordway (1819-1897) and Benjamin Champney (1817-1907).  

The fifth artist is Daniel Huntington (1816-1906) who is "off camera" sketching the other four. So we see the scene through his eyes. The Cooper Hewitt Museum has a number of other sketches from that same trip that we will explore in future blogs.  

While Huntington's sketch is quite accurate, an oil painting said to have resulted from this sketching trip is very fanciful.

For more on this painting now in the collection of the New York Historical Society see this link

We can also look through the eyes of the artist Benjamin Champney depicted at the very right of the sketch. A few years ago, the New Hampshire Historical Society acquired a large collection of sketches by Champney that included a number of sketches done that same day.

It may be possible that this is the sketch that Champney was sketching when Huntington was sketching him. For more information on this sketch see this link.

We know from another sketch in the collection that Champney went down to the edge of the lake that same day and made this sketch.

Here you can see the mountain peaks from right to left: Paugus, Passaconway, Wonalancet and Whiteface. For more information on this sketch see this link.

For more details on this or any other historical subject in the White Mountains, contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.

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