A "Wild, Unsettled Country": Early Reflections of the Adirondacks

Untitled: Ausable River, ca.  1869, Samuel Colman.  Adirondack Museum.
Untitled: Ausable River, ca. 1869, Samuel Colman. Adirondack Museum.

The Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, New York, is showcasing more than forty paintings from the museum's exceptional collection, including works by Thomas Cole, John Frederick Kensett, William Havell, and James David Smillie.

The exhibition "Wild, Unsettled Country" features paintings, maps, prints, and photographs that illustrate the untamed Adirondack wilderness discovered by early artists, cartographers, and photographers.

Also featured in the exhibition, through October 18, 2010, are fifty of the engravings and lithographs of Adirondack landscape paintings that brought these images to a wider audience and provided many Americans with their first glimpse of the "howling wilds" that were the Adirondack Mountains.

A dozen rare and significant maps from the collection of the museum's research library demonstrate the growth of knowledge about the Adirondacks. These include the "1704 Edition of Lahontan's Voyages" by the Baron Louis-Armand de Lom d'Arce Lahontan and the "Chronological Map of the Province of New York in North America Divided into Counties, Manors, and Townships . . ." by Claude Joseph Sauthier, 1779.

"A 'Wild Unsettled Country'" will feature photographs sold as tourist souvenirs and to "armchair travelers." The first photographic landscape studies made in the Adirondacks by William James Stillman in 1859 have never been exhibited before. Photos by Seneca Ray Stoddard will also be included.

The exhibit will include special labels and text just for kids in addition to the traditional presentation.

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