Albert Bierstadt. Echo Lake, Franconia Mountains, New Hampshire. Oil on canvas, 1861, 25 ¼ x 39 1/8. Smith College Museum of Art. Purchased with the assistance of funds given by Mrs. John Stewart Dalrymple (Bernice Barber, class of 1910), SC 1960:27 Photo: Petegorsky/Gipe. (Average user rating: 0.0)
Better known for his large paintings of the western United States, Albert Bierstadt nevertheless also visited and painted in the White Mountains beginning in 1852 until as late as 1886. In 1860, he helped identify views for his brothers Edward and Charles to photograph, and subsequently publish in their photographic catalogs. This painting, which was once thought to be an image painted out west, was identified through comparison with one of the Bierstadt brothers' photographs.
By mid-century, Bierstadt and other artists began to paint meditative views of forest interiors and tranquil bodies of water, offering an alternative to the vast mountain vistas which had made the area famous. Echo Lake, Franconia Mountains brings the two approaches together, with the intimate details of the landscape in the foreground, while the dramatic vista of the mountains and storm clouds overhead remind the viewer of the larger landscape beyond the tranquil lake. The location of light in the painting reinforces the movement of the eye from the beach to the edge of the forest and to the mountain beyond. There is no suggestion in this painting that the lake was likely to be filled with tourists or that there was a busy hotel opposite this beach.
Driving Directions: We recommend Google Map . Site coordinates: 44.178418 Lat., -71.693516 Long.
Location Notes: For Albert Bierstadt's view South across the lake short and into the notch, the Echo Lake Beach can be reached by travelling North on I-93, taking exit 34C, and following signs for Echo Lake Beach. For the Edward Hill view from Bald Mountain to the north of Echo Lake, proceed on Route 18 to the trail head across from the Peabody Base Lodge.