Benjamin Champney (1817–1907)
As one of the leaders of the White Mountain School, Benjamin Champney brought the techniques of the Hudson River School to the woods and mountains of New Hampshire. Champney began his career as a lithographer and, on the advice of the established artist Washington Allston, traveled to Paris to study painting in 1841. When he returned to the United States he became famous for his panoramas of Europe, which he exhibited throughout Boston and New York. He turned his focus to landscape painting in 1850 and spent the following summers sketching in North Conway, New Hampshire. His paintings, which combined his panoramic technique with an interest in nature’s detail, proved extremely popular and were often reproduced by lithographic artists. Champney also taught classes in North Conway and was so influential in bringing other artists to the region that he became known as the “dean” of the White Mountain School. He helped to found the Boston Art Club in 1854 and exhibited at the National Academy of Design, the Boston Athenaeum, the American Art Union, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Paris Salon. The New Hampshire Historical Society held a retrospective of his work in 1997; his paintings can also be seen at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Butler Institute of American Art, the Georgia Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University.