Title: Lake George, NY, Looking at Five Mile Mt.
Artist: James Hope (Scottish / American, 1818-1892.)
Medium: Oil on canvas.
Size: 26.25″ high x 40.25″ wide. (Frame: 35″ high x 49″ wide.)
Date: Circa early 1850′s.
Signed: Signed lower left.
Provenance: Hudson River School.
About this painting: Painting of Lake George looking Southwest across the lake towards the Five Mile Mountain and possibly from Huletts Landing, NY area, which is 25 miles west of James Hope’s home in Castleton, VT near Rutland, VT. Hope met and was influenced by Frederick Church in 1849.
James B. Hope Biography
James B. Hope was born on November 29, 1818 in Drygrange, Roxboroughshire, Scotland. After moving to the United States he became a noted portrait, landscape, and historical genre painter.
After the death of his mother, he was brought to Canada by his father, who died of cholera about 1831. According to tradition James Hope was fifteen when he walked from the Canadian farm where he had spent his boyhood to Fairhaven, Vermont, to begin his five-year apprenticeship to a wagon-maker. With the money he saved, he was able to spend a year at Castleton Seminary. Apparently an accident to his ankle, which temporarily confined him to his home, gave him the leisure to try his hand at portraiture, and his first efforts were successful enough for him to set up as a professional artist at West Rutland in 1843.
Hope married Julia M. Smith of West Rutland on September 20, 1841. Four of their children survived to adulthood: Henry F.; J. Douglass, who became a photographer; Jessie; and Addie, who married George A. Stearns and died in Argentina in 1871.
From 1844 to 1846, he painted portraits in the more lucrative market of Montreal and then returned to Castleton, where he built a house in 1851 and supported his family by teaching painting and drawing at the Seminary. Landscape painting soon began to occupy all his spare moments, combining as it did his love for the country with his newfound talent. The catalogue of his paintings sold some years after his death mentions that at this period “two famous landscape artists- one great through color-power, the other through majesty of line, came into his life with most grateful results to him and them.”
The first in this reference was Frederick Church, who in the summer of 1849 visited the spa at Clarendon Springs, Vermont, only a few miles from Castleton, and exhibited two Vermont scenes at the Academy the following year. It seems likely that he influenced Hope to focus his attentions on New York City, and may have exerted a strong influence on the Vermont painters career. In the early eighteen-fifties Hope abandoned teaching entirely and took a studio in New York, where he painted during the winter, returning to Castleton in the summer.
Hope sent a Castleton landscape to the 1849 exhibition of the American Art Union, and by 1854 had work accepted by the National Academy of Design. Thereafter, for more than twenty-five years, he was a frequent contributor to the exhibitions there and at the Brooklyn Art Association. There are paintings of the Yosemite Valley by Hope, probably after Bierstadt sketches, and of Jerusalem, the sea of Galilee, and Joppa after photographs by Bierstadt (in this case presumably Edward Bierstadt, the photographer and brother of the painter). An occasional exhibitor in Boston, Hope also sent paintings to shows in Philadelphia, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Detroit, Utica, Chicago, and St. Louis.
Hope was among the group of artists who saw active duty in the Civil War, participating in eleven battles. After the war he acquired popularity as a painter of battle scenes. He served in the Union army and sketched many battle scenes, which he later converted to large paintings that he exhibited throughout the country. One example is his work, In Search of General Sumner.
After living much of his life in Vermont, he moved in 1872 to Watkins Glen, New York where he built a studio and art gallery. There he spent the last twenty years of his life as artist laureate of the water and wind-hewn geologic formations found in the vicinity, especially Rainbow Falls. He was also one of the many artists who painted in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Hope was elected an Associate Member of the National Academy of Design in 1871.