Hudson River School Art Movement

USA, 1825 - 1885

Hudson River School Art Movement, History, Oil Paintings & Artists.

Hudson River School paintings reflect three major themes of American history in the nineteenth century: discovery, exploration, and settlement. The oil paintings also depict the American landscape as a pastoral setting, where people and nature coincide. The Hudson River School landscapes are characterized by their realistic, detailed, and sometimes idealized portrayal of nature. This is in contrast to the wild, which was quickly vanishing.

For the United States, the nineteenth century was the century of industry and mass immigration. By 1860, New York's population had already topped one million, putting America on its way to becoming the proverbial "melting pot". During the first half of the 19th century, American painting continued to rely on European currents and trends. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, Paris replaced London as the fashionable center for arts education. The influences of famous artists like Claude Lorrain, John Constable, J. M. W. Turner, and the art of French Realism and the Barbizon School, all contributed to the emergence of the Hudson River School, the first American artistic movement. This style of painting took reality as the starting point, but transformed it into an idealized, Romantic vision, with a strong dose of American national pride.

Hudson River School The First American Art Movement.

The Hudson River School, led by the talented artist Thomas Cole, generally acknowledged as the founder of the Hudson River School, flourished between 1825 and 1875. It used the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, including the Catskill, Adirondack, and the White Mountains, as its subject matter. The first review of his work appeared in the New York Evening Post on November 22, 1825. Cole's close friend, Asher Durand, became a prominent figure in the school as well. The term is thought to have originated with the landscape painter Homer Dodge Martin. This style of painting took reality as the starting point, but transformed it into an idealized, Romantic vision, with a strong dose of American national pride. The artists would travel to extraordinary and extreme environments, which would not permit extended painting at the site. During these expeditions, the artists recorded sketches and memories, returning to their studios to paint the finished works later.

The Second Generation of Hudson River School Artists.

Following Cole's untimely death in 1848, the next generation of Hudson River School artists rose to prominence. These artists included Cole's prized understudy Frederic Edwin Church, John Frederick Kensett, and Sanford Robinson Gifford. Works by artists of this second generation are often described as examples of Luminism. Artworks by the second generation of artists associated with the school expanded to include different regions in New England, the Maritimes, the American West, and even South America. Besides pursuing their art, many of the artists, among them Kensett, Gifford, and Church, were among the founders of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

The vast majority of the finest works by these artists were painted between 1855 and 1875. During that time, artists like Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt were celebrities. They were both influenced by the Düsseldorf school of painting, and Bierstadt had studied in the city for several years. When Church exhibited paintings such as  Niagara Falls or The Icebergs, thousands of people lined up around the block and paid fifty cents a head to view the solitary works. The epic size of the landscapes in these paintings reminded Americans of the vast, untamed, but magnificent wilderness areas in the country. Several of these works were created during the American West's settlement, the preservation of national parks, and the establishment of green city parks.

Adapted in part from Wikipedia

Famous Hudson River School Art Movement Oil Painting Reproductions

Hudson River School Art Movement Painters Biography & Painting Reproductions

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