The Hudson River School was a mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by Romanticism. The paintings typically depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, including the Catskill, Adirondack, and White Mountains. Works by the second generation of artists associated with the school expanded to include other locales in New England, the Maritimes, the American West, and South America.
The name Hudson River School is thought to have been coined by New York Tribune art critic Clarence Cook or by landscape painter Homer Dodge Martin.It was initially used disparagingly, as the style had gone out of favor after the plein-air Barbizon School had come into vogue among American patrons and collectors.
Hudson River School paintings reflect three themes of America in the 19th century: discovery, exploration, and settlement.They also depict the American landscape as a pastoral setting, where human beings and nature coexist peacefully. Hudson River School landscapes are characterized by their realistic, detailed, and sometimes idealized portrayal of nature, often juxtaposing peaceful agriculture and the remaining wilderness which was fast disappearing from the Hudson Valley just as it was coming to be appreciated for its qualities of ruggedness and sublimity. In general, Hudson River School artists believed that nature in the form of the American landscape was a reflection of God, though they varied in the depth of their religious conviction. They were inspired by European masters such as Claude Lorrain, John Constable, and J. M. W. Turner. Several painters were members of the Düsseldorf school of painting, others were educated by German Paul Weber.
A number of women were associated with the Hudson River School. Susie M. Barstow was an avid mountain climber who painted the mountain scenery of the Catskills and the White Mountains. Eliza Pratt Greatorex was an Irish-born painter who was the second woman elected to the National Academy of Design. Julie Hart Beers led sketching expeditions in the Hudson Valley region before moving to a New York City art studio with her daughters. Harriet Cany Peale studied with Rembrandt Peale, and Mary Blood Mellen was a student and collaborator with Fitz Henry Lane.
Thomas Cole is generally acknowledged as the founder of the Hudson River School.He took a steamship up the Hudson in the autumn of 1825, stopping first at West Point then at Catskill landing. He hiked west high into the eastern Catskill Mountains of New York to paint the first landscapes of the area. The first review of his work appeared in the New York Evening Post on November 22, 1825. Cole was from England and the brilliant autumn colors in the American landscape inspired him. His close friend Asher Durand became a prominent figure in the school, as well. A prominent element of the Hudson River School was its themes of nationalism, nature, and property. Adherents of the movement also tended to be suspicious of the economic and technological development of the age.
The second generation of Hudson River School artists emerged after Cole's premature death in 1848; its members included Cole's prize pupil Frederic Edwin Church, John Frederick Kensett, and Sanford Robinson Gifford. Works by artists of this second generation are often described as examples of Luminism. Kensett, Gifford, and Church were also among the founders of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Most of the finest works of the second generation were painted between 1855 and 1875. During that time, artists such as Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt were celebrities. They were both influenced by the Düsseldorf school of painting, and Bierstadt had studied in that city for several years. Thousands of people would pay 25 cents per person to view paintings such as Niagaraand The Icebergs . The epic size of these landscapes was unexampled in earlier American painting and reminded Americans of the vast, untamed, and magnificent wilderness areas in their country. This was the period of settlement in the American West, preservation of national parks, and establishment of green city parks.
Hudson River School art has had minor periods of resurgence in popularity. The school gained interest after World War I, probably due to nationalist attitudes. Interest declined until the 1960s, and the regrowth of the Hudson Valley[ vague ] has spurred further interest in the movement. Historic house museums and other sites dedicated to the Hudson River School include Olana State Historic Site in Hudson, New York, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in the town of Catskill, the Newington-Cropsey Foundation's historic house museum, art gallery, and research library in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, and the John D. Barrow Art Gallery in the village of Skaneateles, New York.
One of the largest collections of paintings by artists of the Hudson River School is at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. Some of the most notable works in the Atheneum's collection are 13 landscapes by Thomas Cole, and 11 by Hartford native Frederic Edwin Church, both of whom were personal friends of the museum's founder, Daniel Wadsworth.
The Newington-Cropsey Foundation, in their Gallery of Art Building, maintains a research library of Hudson River School art and painters, open to the public by reservation.
George Inness was a prominent American landscape painter.
Frederic Edwin Church was an American landscape painter born in Hartford, Connecticut. He was a central figure in the Hudson River School of American landscape painters, best known for painting large landscapes, often depicting mountains, waterfalls, and sunsets. Church's paintings put an emphasis on realistic detail, dramatic light, and panoramic views. He debuted some of his major works in single-painting exhibitions to a paying and often enthralled audience in New York City. In his prime, he was one of the most famous painters in the United States.
Thomas Cole was an English-born American painter known for his landscape and history paintings. One of the major 19th-century American painters, he is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River School, an American art movement that flourished in the mid-19th century. Cole's work is known for its romantic portrayal of the American wilderness.
Jasper Francis Cropsey was an important American landscape artist of the Hudson River School.
The Wadsworth Atheneum is an art museum in Hartford, Connecticut. The Wadsworth is noted for its collections of European Baroque art, ancient Egyptian and Classical bronzes, French and American Impressionist paintings, Hudson River School landscapes, modernist masterpieces and contemporary works, as well as collections of early American furniture and decorative arts.
Asher Brown Durand was an American painter of the Hudson River School.
John Frederick Kensett was an American landscape painter and engraver born in Cheshire, Connecticut. A member of the second generation of the Hudson River School of artists, Kensett's signature works are landscape paintings of New England and New York State, whose clear light and serene surfaces celebrate transcendental qualities of nature, and are associated with Luminism. Kensett's early work owed much to the influence of Thomas Cole, but was from the outset distinguished by a preference for cooler colors and an interest in less dramatic topography, favoring restraint in both palette and composition. The work of Kensett's maturity features tranquil scenery depicted with a spare geometry, culminating in series of paintings in which coastal promontories are balanced against glass-smooth water. He was a founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Jervis McEntee was an American painter of the Hudson River School. He is a somewhat lesser-known figure of the 19th-century American art world, but was the close friend and traveling companion of several of the important Hudson River School artists. Aside from his paintings, McEntee's journals are an enduring legacy, documenting the life of a New York painter during and after the Gilded Age.
Martin Johnson Heade was an American painter known for his salt marsh landscapes, seascapes, and depictions of tropical birds, as well as lotus blossoms and other still lifes. His painting style and subject matter, while derived from the romanticism of the time, are regarded by art historians as a significant departure from those of his peers.
Thomas Doughty was an American artist associated with the Hudson River School.
Sanford Robinson Gifford was an American landscape painter and one of the leading members of the Hudson River School. Gifford's landscapes are known for their emphasis on light and soft atmospheric effects, and he is regarded as a practitioner of Luminism, an offshoot style of the Hudson River School.
Olana State Historic Site is a historic house museum and property in Greenport, New York, near the city of Hudson. The estate was home to Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900), one of the major figures in the Hudson River School of landscape painting. The centerpiece of Olana is an eclectic villa which overlooks parkland and a working farm designed by the artist. The residence has a wide view of the Hudson River Valley, the Catskill Mountains and the Taconic Range. Church and his wife Isabel (1836–1899) named their estate after a fortress-treasure house in ancient Greater Persia, which also overlooked a river valley.
Daniel Wadsworth (1771–1848) of Hartford, Connecticut, was an American amateur artist and architect, arts patron and traveler. He is most remembered as the founder of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in his native city.
David Johnson was a member of the second generation of Hudson River School painters.
Sylvia Plimack Mangold is an American artist, painter, printmaker, and pastelist. She is known for her representational depictions of interiors and landscapes. She is the mother of film director and screenwriter James Mangold, and a musician Andrew Mangold.
The Catskills by Asher Brown Durand, an American engraver, portraitist, and landscape artist, was commissioned by William Thompson Walters in 1858.
Sarah Cole (1805-1857) was an American landscape painter and the sister of prominent American landscape painter Thomas Cole. Many of Cole’s paintings are similar in subject and visuals to her brother’s. Though she was one of the earliest female landscape painters working in the United States, little is known of her life, and very few of her works have survived or can be located today.
Lake with Dead Trees, also known as Catskill, is an oil on canvas painting completed in 1825 by Thomas Cole. Depicting a scene in the Catskill Mountains in southeastern New York State, this work is one of five of Cole's 1825 landscapes to found the mid-19th century American art movement known as the Hudson River School.
The Newington-Cropsey Foundation (NCF) is a nonprofit private organization based in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. The foundation's aim is to maintain and preserve the works of Jasper Cropsey and the art movement he was a part of, the Hudson River School. The foundation also promotes representational painting and sculpture.
Susie M. Barstow was an American painter associated with the Hudson River School who was known for her luminous landscapes.
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