panoramic view of Northampton from above showing fields with cows grazing, town buildings beyond amidst trees and hills in distance; outdoor; landscape; architecture; town; mountain; vegetation; water; animal; watercraft
This painting faithfully records the architectural and geographic features of Northampton and the future campus of Smith College ten years before it opened in 1875.
The Mill River is in the foreground, with Paradise Pond to the left. The then “new” high school, built in 1864, is seen at center right, with its distinctive hat-shaped towers. The Connecticut River snakes through the fields, with Amherst in the distance. Mount Holyoke rises at the far right.
Thomas Charles Farrer was a disciple of the English writer and critic John Ruskin, who advocated for “truth to nature”: the careful observation and realistic representation of the natural world in art. Farrer visited Northampton and the surrounding region in 1865.
Viewers familiar with the Smith campus might be able to find Hopkins House amid the tall trees on Elm Street on the left side of the canvas. Built in 1861, it is one of the few buildings visible in the painting that remain on the Smith campus today.