Mt. Jefferson, Pinkham Notch, White Mountains (Primary Title)
This canvas testifies to Cropsey’s well-earned renown as America’s painter of autumn. He belonged to the core group of artists that became known as the Hudson River school – though they were never an organized group. After regular sketching trips to regional forests and mountains, the artists returned to their New York City studios to produce landscapes for an approving urban audience.
Mount Jefferson celebrates the vastness of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. By the time painters flocked to the region, it was already being altered by tourism and technology. Cropsey hints at this transition. As the small figure in the foreground sets off with his axe, he passes tidy stacks of new lumber. The nearby sawmill denotes a central American paradox: with the advance of civilization comes destruction of primeval wilderness.
First exhibited to enthusiastic praise in New York, the picture was later shown at the 1867 Universal Exposition in Paris. Only recently has it been determined that Cropsey inadvertently misidentified the vista’s prominent peak. It is Mount Adams that commands the view, with Mount Jefferson to its left.
O’Leary, Elizabeth L., Sylvia Yount, Susan Jensen Rawles, and David Park Curry. American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Charlottesville: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with the University of Virginia Press, 2010. (No. 57, p. 156-159).
David Park Curry, “Portals to Gardens of the Mind,” A Covenant of Seasons Monotypes by Joellyn Duesberry Poems by Pattiann Rogers (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1998) pp. 142-143, 151, b&w ill. fig. 16.
David Park Curry, “What’s in a Frame,” in Eli Wilner, ed., The Gilded Edge in America (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000) p. 155.
“Top 100 Treasures,” Arts and Antiques, Vol. XX, No. 3, March 1997, p. 57, ill.
Anne Barriault, Selections Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1997)
Kathleen Adler et al, Americans in Paris 1860-1900 (London: National Gallery Company Limited, 2005) pp. 195, 200, color fig. 30, p. 195.
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