Signed and dated, lower left: L.D. Eldred-1878-; inscribed, by artist (?), in graphite, on stretcher reverse: Mt. Madison/View from [Lead Mine Bridge] [indistinct]/ [illegible-at Dusk (?) or, by Eldred?]
A luminous pink and yellow sunset reflects over the still waters of the Androscoggin River. Eldred painted this 1878 scene from Lead Mine Bridge, which was described in 1880 as popular among “artists and romantic young couples.” With Mount Madison rising in the background, the scene’s natural beauty obscures the region’s pollutive lead mining industry. Eldred does not paint the shafts sunk into the bed of a nearby brook, which pumped air into the mines and water back out of them.
Rural nineteenth-century residents could not combat the effects of environmental catastrophe caused by capitalist industry. Mary Peabody, a local woman living in the region, described how “stagnant, milky looking water was very offensive, and many feared the foul gasses would generate fevers.” The lead poisoning Peabody describes is still an issue today. Extractive industries often affect the poorest communities who have the fewest resources to combat the system.
From the 2023 exhibition Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, curated by Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art
Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, Israel Sack Gallery and the Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 29, 2023-June 16, 2024.
Catherine H. Campbell. New Hampshire Scenery, a dictionary of nineteenth-century artists of New Hampshire mountain landscapes. New Hampshire Historical Society, 1985
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