Hudson River Museum

Yonkers, New York


Photo: Quesada/Burke


Art and Nature: The Hudson River School


An exhibition of one of the largest and most important collections of Hudson River School paintings, Art and Nature: The Hudson River School, will make its first Northeast stop this year at The Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, NY.

This exhibition of the world-renowned collection of 19th Century landscape paintings from the Albany Institute of History and Art will open Friday, October 15, 1999, and coincide with the grand reopening of the newly restored Glenview Mansion. It will feature 26 paintings from the major Hudson River School artists, the group that received their name from critics and historians because of their passion for painting landscape scenes, especially along the Hudson River. (left: David Johnson, Study of Nature, Dresden Lake George, 1870, oil on canvas, framed 19 3/4 x 28 x 3 1/2 inches, Collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art)

The Albany Institute, founded in 1791, has been collecting Hudson River School paintings for almost 100 years. This is the first time the collection is being displayed outside of Albany. "Because of the historical significance of these paintings, we made the decision to share them with other communities throughout the country," said Marsha Moss, director of public relations for the institute. "And since the paintings represent the best of the Hudson River School, the natural choice for the Northeast exhibit was The Hudson River Museum, right in the heart of the Hudson Valley.

The opening of the exhibition coincides with the grand reopening of Glenview Mansion at The Hudson River Museum. Following a $2 million renovation over the past four years, Glenview provides the region's most comprehensive display of life during America's Gilded Age of the late 19th century. "We are very pleased that the Albany Institute has chosen to exhibit paintings of such historic significance at The Hudson River Museum," said Philip Verre, Museum director. "This is an important part of our region's cultural legacy, and we are looking forward to displaying these prominent works at our newly-refurbished Glenview Mansion, where everyone in the tri-state area can have an opportunity to view them." (left: Jasper F. Cropsey, Dawn of Morning, Lake George, 1868, oil on canvas, framed 30 x 42 3/4 x 4 1/2 inches, Collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art)

The Hudson River School paintings will be on display at the Glenview Mansion through Sunday, December 19, 1999. From Yonkers, the exhibition will travel to the following locations. Kalamazoo Institute of Art in Michigan: Morris Museum in Atlanta; J.B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY; Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ; and Terra Museum of American Art in Chicago. Each institution will display the paintings for nine weeks, and the exhibition will return to Albany in February 2001.

The Hudson River School paintings date back to the 1820s, when many Americans associated nature with God. By the end of the l9th century, interest in the Hudson River School declined. The paintings were viewed as not "worldly" enough. The trend continued after World War II, as America became the center for modern, abstract art. However, during the 1960s and 1970s, the Hudson River School began its resurgence, and today the paintings enjoy international acclaim for their transcendental beauty. (left: Thomas Cole, View on Catskill Creek, c. 1835-1838, oil on board, framed 22 1/2 x 30 1/2 x 3 3/4 inches, Collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art)

Hudson River School artists whose works are included in the exhibition are:

Thomas Cole (1801 - 1848) He was "discovered" in 1825 when artist Asher B. Durand saw three of his Hudson Valley paintings in New York City. Cole is famous for his landscape scenes that focus on the dramatic forces of nature, such as crashing waterfalls, high tropical mountains and fiery sunsets.

Frederic Edwin Church (1826 - 1900) A Connecticut native, he began studying painting at age 16 and later studied with Thomas Cole. Church was a master of panoramic landscapes, such as Niagara and Heart of the Andes.

Asher B. Durand (1796 - 1886) Durand started out as an engraver, and eventually became the leader of the Hudson River School. His writing, "Letters on Landscape Painting" influenced younger Hudson River School artists.

John Frederick Kensett (1816 - 1872) Beginning his career as an engraver, Kensett became a prolific landscape painter, sketching in the Catskills and Berkshires.

Jasper F. Cropsey (1823 - 1900) Cropsey began his artistic career as an architect. His works were influenced by Cole and Durand, and focused on idealized autumn scenes with vivid colors.

George Inness (1825 - 1894) Influenced by the French Barbizon artists, Innis achieved a style of his own and a new dimension of content.

Alvan Fisher (1793 - 1837) Born in Massachusetts, he studied with a Boston artist in the traditional manner of copying paintings. Fisher's painted landscapes, portraits, marine and animal scenes.

David Johnson (1827 - 1908) Johnson taught himself to paint, and his early "luminist" style paintings featured details, bright pallets and smooth texture.

William M. Hart (1823 - 1894) The brother of James MacDonald Hart, he began his career as a coach and ornamental painter. Hart's works were also influenced by Durand.

James McDougal Hart (1828 - 1891) Hart was a leading member of the second generation of Hudson River School artists. Beginning his career as a sign painter, Hart is best known for his finely-detailed and gently-colored pastoral scenes.

Homer Dodge Martin (1836 - 1897) His early works emulated Cole's and other Hudson River School artists. Later, Martin began using a palette knife, more subtle colors, and a looser touch like French Barbizon artists.

John William Casilear ( l811 - 1893) Beginning his career as an engraver, Casilear's work corresponds with that of his contemporaries, the second-generation Hudson River School artists, characterized as "Luminists."

Please also see Gonzaga University's The Hudson River School: American Art, 1820-1870 Brief Outline Notes with Links to Paintings [10/11/10: link no longer active]


Read more in Resource Library about the Hudson River Museum.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/11/10

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