Edwin Whitefield was a lithographer, teacher, and landscape and flower painter. He was a prolific viewmaker of towns and cities.
Edwin Whitefield Pennie was born on Septermber 22, 1816 in East Lulworth, Dorset, England. He was christened in the local Church of England on June 30, 1820. His father was a schoolmaster, and it is believed he was taught at home and had no formal eductation. He married his first wife, Maria, around 1833 when he was seventeen. Around September 1835, he left his wife and son and may have first arrived in Canada. He is known to have taught in Canada and married his second wife, Kate, who was a schoolgirl there. He came to the United States in 1837 and changed his name from Edwin Whitefield Pennie to Edwin Whitefield, his mother’s maiden name. During his first years he is believed to have been an agent for Godey’s Magazine, traveling to Troy, NY and Baltimore, MD. He was also a teacher and added to his income by sketching and painting watercolor views of Hudson Valley estates.
He began to experiment with lighography in 1842 and published two large prints of Albany and Troy, NY in 1845. In the same year, illustrations by Whitefield appeared in Emma C. Embury’s American Wild Flowers in Their Native Haunts. Two years later he published 28 views of rural landscapes and country estates in North American Scenery, which became part of his larger series Whitefield’s Original Views of North American Cities and Scenery. From 1847 to 1852 he traveled through Canada and across the northern states collecting views which he published in the aforementioned Original Views. From 1856 to 1859 he made several trips to Minnesota where he painted watercolor landscapes and made sketches and lithographs. These were published in his Series of Minnesota Scenery. Living in Chicago from 1860 to 1863 he published Views of Chicago. Back in Boston in 1866, he produced two drawing manuals as well as a number of street maps. He lived in Reading, MA from 1870 to 1888 where he continued to produce views of New England towns. During these years he did illustrations for his three-volume The Homes of Our Forefathers, a seminal work recording the early houses of New England.
He exhibited at the National Academy of Design from 1852 to 1854.
His works are preserved at the Boston Athenaeum, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Minnesota Historical Society, and the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.
His two known White Mountain scenes are titled View of Winnepesaukee [sic], oil on canvas, 19 x 27 ½ inches, dated 1867 and No. 2 Mote [sic] Mt. from Nth Conway, watercolor, 9 ½ x 6 inches.
Great, great grandson, Alan Pennie