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Moat Mountain, Intervale, New Hampshire

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Moat Mountain, Intervale, New Hampshire

circa 1862
oil on paper mounted on canvas
19 1/8 in. x 26 1/8 in. (48.58 cm x 66.36 cm)
Currier Funds, 1947.3

Albert Bierstadt


(For biographical information on Albert Bierstadt, see entry under Bierstadt, Mount Hood, Oregon 2002.20.3, )

In September 1862, Albert Bierstadt registered at the Conway House in the White Mountains, adding his name to a long roster of artists who came to paint the spectacular scenery of New Hampshire. This was Bierstadt's fifth visit to the area, and the third in as many summers. He made some of these trips with his brother Edward, who was a photographer in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Bierstadt helped his brother identify picturesque scenes to photograph; their efforts resulted in the album Stereoscopic Views Among the Hills of New Hampshire, published in 1862. He also sketched avidly during these summers. A number of the resulting pictures were based on Edward Bierstadt's photographs. In others, including Moat Mountain, the wide angle of vision, the sharply delineated foreground elements that seem to project toward the viewer, and the dramatic clarity of the space were informed by the aesthetic of the stereoscopic photograph.

Many of the artists who preceded Bierstadt in the White Mountains (for example, Jasper Cropsey [q.v.]); chose to paint breathtaking peaks, plunging waterfalls, deep, forbidding forests, and other landscape elements that emphasized the wild grandeur of the region. The area surrounding Moat Mountain, however, located about seven miles northwest of Conway, seems to have called for a more serene and beautiful treatment. In the late 1850s, both Benjamin Champney (q.v.) and Aaron Draper Shattuck (1832-1928), two frequent visitors, painted small, delicate views of Moat Mountain and the Conway meadows that may have inspired Bierstadt's interpretation. (In turn, Moat Mountain may have influenced Champney, who in the 1870s painted at least three images of the scene from a vantage point nearly identical to that in Bierstadt's picture.) Bierstadt describes a view from Intervale southwest to White Horse and Cathedral ledges, with Moat Mountain (elevation 3,201 feet) rising in the distance. The view was described as "a suburb of Paradise" by Thomas Starr King, a contemporary travel writer, who claimed that "we have seen no other region of New England that is so swathed in dreamy charm. A few years ago the Mote [sic] Mountains were ravaged with fire; and yet their lines give such delight, that few mountains look so attractive in verdure as they in desolation. The atmosphere and the outlines of the hills seem to lull rather than stimulate. There are no crags, no pinnacles, no ramparts of rock, no mountain, frown, or savageness brought into contrast, at any point, with the general serene beauty." (1)

Bierstadt paints Moat Mountain as storm clouds move past, leaving broad strips of sunlight and shadow across the valley floor. The craggy faces of the ledges are shown in crisp detail. The mountain itself emerges from the mist, its strong profile softened by the passing clouds. Wildflowers animate the immediate foreground, and trees of "aristocratic elegance" lead the eye through the expansive valley. Yet this is no untamed wilderness: the meadows in the middle distance are crisscrossed by low fences, indicating the benign and harmonious presence of civilization in the midst of this scene of natural magnificence.



1. Thomas Starr King, The White Hills; Their Legends, Landscape, and Poetry (Boston: Crosby, Nichols, and Company, 1860), p. 152.


William C. Lipke and Philip N. Grime. "Albert Bierstadt in New Hampshire." Currier Gallery of Art Bulletin 2, 1973, pp. 20-37.

Catherine H. Campbell. "Albert Bierstadt and the White Mountains." Archives of American Art Journal21, no. 3 (1981): 14-23.

1947 Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hagerstown, MD, "American Romantic." Mar. 30 - April 27, no. 2.

1947 Doll & Richards, Boston, MA, "Early Paintings of Maine and New Hampshire." June 2 - July 19, no. 2.

1955 Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, NH, "Artists in the White Mountains."July 15 - Sept. 15.

1963 North Conway Library Association, North Conway, NH, "Nineteenth Century Art Show." July 25 - 27.

1964 New York Worlds Fair, NH Display (organized by Heritage Forum).

1965 John Henry Fuller Elementary School, North Conway, NH, "Bicentennial Exhibition." July 11 - 18.

1966 Tamworth Bicentennial Committee, Tamworth, NH, "Painting in the White Mountains." Aug. 8 - 13.

1972 Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, "Painting, Sculpture and Decorative Arts from the Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire." May 14 - June 20.

1978 Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, NH, "By the Side of the Road." June 24 - Oct. 22, cat. no. 3.

1979 Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, "Small Gallery on a Large Scale." June 16 - July 29.

1986 Bowdoin College Art Museum, Brunswick, ME, "Masterpieces from the Currier Gallery of Art." Sept. 11 - Nov. 2.

1991-1992 "Albert Bierstadt: Art and Enterprise." Organized by the Brooklyn Museum and the National Gallery. Traveled to: Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, Feb. 8 - May 6, 1991; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, June 8 -Sept. 2, 1991; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Nov. 3, 1991 - Feb. 17, 1992.

1995-1997 "American Art from the Currier Gallery of Art." Organized by the Currier Gallery of Art and the American Federation of Arts. Traveled to: Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL, Dec. 3, 1995 - Jan. 28, 1996; Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, FL, Mar. 15 - Apr. 7, 1996; Art Museum of Western Virginia, Roanoke, VA, Aug. 10 - Oct. 13, 1996; The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, TN, Feb. 2 - Mar. 30, 1997; Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA, Apr. 25 - June 22, 1997; Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, NH, July 18 - Sept. 8, 1997, cat. no. 15.

1999 Osterreische Galerie-Belvedere, Vienna, Austria, "America. The New World in 19th Century Painting." Mar. 17 - June 20.

2002 "American Sublime." Organized by Tate Britain, London, England, Feb. 20 - May 19. Traveled to: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, June 17 - Aug. 25; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN, Sept. 22 - Nov. 17.

2009-2010 "Expanding Horrizons: Painting and Photography of American and Canadian Landscape 1860-1918." Organizaed by Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Traveled to: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, QC, June 18 - Sept. 27; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC, Oct. 17, 2009 - Jan. 17, 2010.

2010-2011 Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH, "The Secret Life of Art: Mysteries of the Museum Revealed." Oct. 2, 2010 – Jan. 9, 2011.

2016-2017 Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH, "Mount Washington: The Crown of New England." Oct. 1, 2016 - Jan. 16, 2017

Kende Galleries sale, "Estate of Henry Russel Wray and others"
Purchased by Victor D. Sparks, 1945
Doll & Richards, Inc., Boston, MA, 1947
Purchased by Currier Gallery of Art 1947

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