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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst

 


Maker(s):Champney, James Wells
Culture:American (1843-1903)
Title:drawing: Frere Champney
Date Made:1883
Type:Drawing, painting
Materials:watercolor, paper, wood, gilding, glass
Place Made:United States; New York; New York City
Measurements:framed: 12 1/2 in x 16 1/2 in x 7/8 in; 31.75 cm x 41.91 cm x 2.2225 cm; image 5 1/4 in x 8 1/2 in
Accession Number:  HD 80.028
Credit Line:Gift of Frances Malone
1980-28t.jpg

Description:
Framed watercolor of the artist's son, Frere Champney (1874-1929) dressed in blue, lying in a green meadow and holding up a flower in his right hand, which is signed and dated in the lower right, "J. Wells Champney / 1883, New York." James Wells Champney (1843-1903) may have been inspired by a similar painting by Winslow Homer (1836-1910) of a boy stretched out in a grassy field, a print of which was illustrated in the September 19, 1874 issue of "Harper's Weekly." Born in Boston, James Champney served in the 45th Massachusetts Volunteers from 1862-1863 before being invalided out of the army; he then taught drawing at Dr. Dio Lewis's "Young Ladies Seminary" from 1864-1866. After deciding to become a professional artist, Champney moved to Europe where he studied in France with Pierre Edouard Frere (1819-1886), a well-known French realist genre painter; in Antwerp with Joseph Francois Henri Van Lerius (1823-1876); and in Italy. In 1870, Champney returned to Boston where he opened a studio; in 1873, he was commissioned by "Scribner's Monthly Magazine" to illustrate "The Great South; A Record of Journeys in Louisiana, Texas, the Indian Territory, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland," a series of articles on the Reconstruction South by Edward King (1848-1896) where the two travelled more than 25,000 miles and Champney contributed at least 500 illustrations. In 1873, Champney married Elizabeth Johnson Williams (1850-1922), whom he had met at the "Young Ladies Seminary;" she was a graduate of the Vassar class of 1869 who became a popular children's author of her period and many of whose whose works Champney illustrated. Born in Springfield, Ohio, Elizabeth Williams was the half-sister of Orson Bennet Williams (1834-1912) and daughter of Samuel Barnard Williams (1803-1884), originally of Deerfield, whose second wife was Caroline Johnson (d.1885) whom he married in 1844; the granddaughter of Elijah Williams (1767-1832) who married Hannah Barnard (1772-1853), daughter of Samuel Barnard (1721-1788) of Deerfield, in 1803; and great-granddaugher of Dr. Thomas Williams (1718-1775) of Deerfield. In 1876 the Champneys moved into Samuel Barnard Williams' house in Deerfield where Champney built a studio; they lived in Deerfield for several years while he was professor of art at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and one of the founders of the Smith Art Gallery. In 1879, Champney opened a studio in New York City, and from that time on the Deerfield became their summer home. James and Elizabeth had two children: Edward Frere who studied art and became an architect, and Maria Mitchell (1876-1906) who was born in Deerfield, married John Sanford Humphreys in 1899, and was a miniature painter. The donor, Frances Malone (1913-2000), was related to Edward Frere Champney by marriage. Her grandparents were the Rev. Francis Lebaron Robbins, Sr. (1830-1920) and Lucy Morton Hartpence Robbins (1856-1935), whose daughter and the donor's aunt, Mary Alice Robbins (1882-1950), married Edward Frere Champney in Greenfield, Massachusetts, in 1923. Miss Malone was the daughter of Mary Alice's sister, Margaret Bradford Robbins (1881-1970) who married Dana Malone in 1909 and lived in Greenfield.

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