biography of Benjamin CHAMPNEY (1817-1907)

Birth place: New Ipswich, NH

Death place: Woburn, MA

Addresses: Boston; Woburn, MA/North Conway, NH

Profession: Landscape, panoramic, flower, and portrait painter

Studied: drawing lessons from Robert Cooke; lithography apprentice to Thomas Moore, successor of Pendleton, 1836-39, in Boston; Paris, from 1841

Exhibited: Boston AC; Boston Athenaeum; American Art Union; NAD; PAFA; Paris Salons, 1844, 1845; New Hampshire Hist. Soc., 1997 (retrospective)

Member: Boston AC (a founder)

Work: New Hampshire Hist. Soc; BMFA

Comments: One of the important landscape painters of the White Mountain School, he was also equally skillful as a portraitist and floral still life painter. As a young man, he worked as a freelance lithographic artist from 1839-41 but aspired to be a painter. At the suggestion of Washington Allston, he and Robert Cooke traveled to France in 1841 to study painting. Champney briefly went back to Boston in 1846, but soon returned to Europe to paint a panorama of the Rhine. Because of the Revolution of 1848 (scenes from which he also painted) he moved back to the U.S. and over the next few years showed his panoramas in Boston and NYC, winning acclaim for his Panorama of the Rhine." About 1850 he began painting landscapes, spending his summers on the Saco River at North Conway, NH, and winters at Woburn, MA. Because of his strong association with the White Mountains and his influence in bringing other artists to the region, he is recognized as the "dean" of the White Mountain School. His landscape paintings became a popular subject for other lithographic artists. His autobiography, Sixty Years' Memories of Art and Artists, was published in 1900. His son, J. Wells Champney (see entry) was a well-known genre painter.

Sources: G&W; WW08; DAB; Boston BD 1850, 1853-58; Cowdrey, NAD; Cowdrey, AA & AAU; Swan, BA; Rutledge, PA; Boston Evening Transcript, Nov. 25 and Dec. 29, 1848, and March 14, 1849, and N.Y. Herald, March 3, 1850. More recently, see Baigell, Dictionary; Pierce & Slautterback, 167; Campbell, New Hampshire Scenery, 26-33; Fink, American Art at the Nineteenth-Century Paris Salons, 329; For Beauty and for Truth, 40 (w/repro.)"