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Maker(s):Champney, James Wells
Culture:American (1843-1903)
Title:painting: Old Green Apple Time
Date Made:1876-1890
Materials:oil, canvas, wood, gilding
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Deerfield (probably)
Measurements:framed: 23 5/8 in x 27 5/8 in; 60.0075 cm x 70.1675 cm
Accession Number:  HD 63.350
Credit Line:Gift of Miss Marian Stebbins
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Framed oil on canvas painting titled "Old Green Apple Time" on the upper edge of the stretcher, which is unsigned and undated but by James Wells Champney (1843-1903). 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 (1874-1929) 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. Mrs. Elizabeth Champney gave this painting to Benjamin Zabina Stebbins (1865-1950) of Deerfield in 1921, which was later purchased from his daughter, Miss Marion Stebbins. This painting is set in the yard of the Champney-Williams house facing northwest, with two children under an apple tree in the orchard; the girl is wearing a straw hat holding apples in her skirt with her right hand and holding out a green apple with her left hand to the younger second child, who is strapped in a wooden cart and holding out his right hand for the apple. The barns and well sweep of the adjoining Ray property are in the background. There is a copy of a small photograph of these two children standing in front of this painting in the data file, which is labeled "Mabel Brown Deerfield" and "Glass Plate of Eliz. Fuller's."


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