Alexander Gallery, New York
Born in Scotland and raised in Canada, James Hope spent his adult life in America, where he became one of its leading painters of portraits, landscapes, and genre scenes. Hope settled in Fairhaven, Vermont at the age of fifteen and spent five years working as a wagon-maker’s apprentice until he had saved enough money to pursue a painting career. He trained at Castleton Seminary for a year and worked as a portrait painter until 1849, when a meeting with Frederic Church inspired him to turn his focus to landscape painting. It was in that field that Hope found his true calling, and success soon followed. He established a studio in New York in the 1850s and exhibited at all of the major art institutions, including the National Academy of Design, the American Art-Union, the Brooklyn Art Association, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Hope joined the Union Army during the Civil War and became an active recruiter for the Second Vermont Regiment. His experience inspired him to create a series of large battle scenes that served as visual documents of the war. He exhibited his paintings throughout the country until 1872, when he built his home, studio, and gallery in Watkins Glen, New York. He spent the last twenty years of his life in the area, painting Rainbow Falls and other striking locations.
Painted in 1873, Winter House likely depicts an area of Watkins Glen. Hope conveys his personal attachment to the landscape in the decidedly romantic tone of the footprints that lead the viewer’s eye towards the cottage. Such winter scenes evoked powerful memories for the artist, who was driven to paint snow-covered landscapes by “the recollections of the forest life of the ‘wildly picturesque spot of Canada where [he] spent his boyhood.” Another snow scene, Winter Scene: The Red Fox, painted in 1855, is now featured in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Hope’s work is also in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Butler Institute of American Art, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.