University of New Hampshire Art Gallery

Durham, NH



The Dublin Colony

As an art colony, Dublin, New Hampshire, differed from others of the late nineteenth century. Unlike Provincetown, Massachusetts; Woodstock. New York, and Old Lyme, Connecticut, artists arrived in Dublin after the town had developed as a summer place.

From early in the nineteenth century, some fifty years before the artists' arrival, Mount Monadnock had caught the eye and infused the literary imagination of Boston. The mountain was visible from the coast, making it a beacon for sailors. It could be seen from the fields and streams of Concord, and so became a beacon for Boston's contemplative poets and writers, as well. Besides distant observation, they honored the mountain with visits, recording their thoughts in journals, essays, and verse.

By the 1830s and 1840s, Cambridge and Concord brimmed with such literary, philosophical, and theological talents as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry David Thoreau, Theodore Parker, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the Alcott family. They and other similarly inclined writers had a wide Boston audience for whom they made the name Monadnock familiar and symbolic.

Thomas Wentworth Higginson (later a leading light of the Dublin summer community) wrote that about 1843 "many of the prosperous people lived in Boston all summer, with occasional trips to Nahant or Saratoga or Ballston, or for the more adventurous a journey by stage among the White Mountains . ." He described the pleasures of summers at home which, with the idyllic surroundings (Brookline, he reminds us, "was then as now, the garden suburb of Boston") and a friendly relaxed atmosphere, were preferable to the rigors of travel at a time when the railroad was just beginning to penetrate the White Mountain wilderness.

Artists, on the other hand, chose the rigors, in order to spend summers among the awesome ruggedness of the White Mountains, exactly suited to the art taste developing at the period. But these artists had less sway over the Boston imagination than did the literati. Hence, Monadnock's renown and significance did not await the post-Civil War shift in American art taste from grand and awesome landscapes to more intimate, less imposing ones. The great stream of printed works pouring forth from Boston included frequent references to Monadnock's nobility. Visits there were related in both published works and private writings--journals and letters--revealing a predilection for nature on both the mystical, theological level and a more practical, scientific one. Monadnock became symbolic of the first and a study laboratory for the other


Go to next section, "Monadnock, The Mystical Magnet"

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