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Winter Landscape by William Preston Phelps

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Winter Landscape by William Preston Phelps

- Item No.

Phelps dutifully reflects the beauty and vastness of this frosted mountain range

Key Features

  • A snow-covered forest is the subject of this wonderful landscape by William Preston Phelps
  • The scene is presumably depicting an area of New Hampshire's Mount Monadnock
  • Phelps was a consummate plein air artist
  • His magnificent landscapes reflect the ideals of the White Mountain School to which he belonged
  • Signed "W.P. Phelps" (lower left); Oil on canvas
  • Canvas: 26" high by 34" wide; Frame: 33" wide by 41 1/2" wide

Item Details

  • Width:
    C: 34 F: 41 1/2 Inches
  • Height:
    C: 26 F: 33 Inches
  • Period:
    19th Century
  • Origin:
  • Subject:
  • Artist:
    Phelps, William Preston
William Preston Phelps
  1848-1923 · American

Winter Landscape 

Signed "W.P. Phelps" (lower left)
Oil on canvas

Winter in all it's glory is the focus of this majestic oil on canvas by American landscapist William Preston Phelps. In this work, the viewer is presented with a snow-laden forest landscape, with cabins visible in the distance. The expanse of white-peaked foliage and diminutive aspect of the far off village perfectly illustrates the primary theory of the White Mountain School to which he belonged-the importance of nature over the comparable insignificance of man.

An expert "plein air" artist, Phelps worked at the peak of Manifest Destiny, with his canvases pure representations of nature as divine and all-powerful. His best known technique for capturing the essence of the outdoors was the construction of elaborate on-site studios that allowed the artist to work regardless of the weather. From here, he could witness how phenomena such as light, rain and snow transformed the landscape at various moments throughout the day and night. It was this that allowed Phelps to truly understand and render the some of the most exquisite landscapes in American art.

Phelps began his artistic career as a sign painter, composing landscapes as a hobby and selling them through his sign-making shop in Lowell, New Hampshire. Soon, the high reputation of his paintings overshadowed that of his full-time business, and he decided to hold an exhibition of his work in Lowell in 1875. Several area businessmen reacted to the exhibition by purchasing the exhibited works and collecting a fund to send Phelps to study and train professionally in Europe. The 28-year-old burgeoning artist spent the next two years in Munich where he became a well-known figure in the city's American artist colony, simultaneously submitting works to the National Academy of Design in New York. It would be here that Phelps was exposed to the plein air technique, one which he quickly mastered. Following a brief return to the United States in 1878, Phelps returned to Munich to co-found the Munich Art Club, then moved on to Paris to paint for two years before permanently returning to the states in 1890.

He moved into his family farm near Chesham, New Hampshire, using the prestine landscapes of his childhood as his subjects, especially that of Mount Monadnock (presumably the subject of the current composition). His works of Monadnock are regarded so highly, that Phelps is often simply referred to as "the painter of Mount Monadnock".

Canvas: 26" high by 34" wide
Frame: 33" wide by 41 1/2" wide 

Artist's Museums:
West Point Museum, New York
Whistler House, Massachusetts
New Hampshire Historical Society
Shelburne Museum, Vermont
Lowell Historical Society, Massachusetts
William Benton Museum of Art, Connecticut
Painting by William Bouguereau

Collecting 19th Century Art

Nineteenth century art has exploded on the market over the past two or three decades, fetching prices that have made critics take notice. Read More »

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