Glories of the Landscape: The Hudson River School

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Hudson River Looking Toward the Catskills, 1847. Asher Brown Durand (1796-1886). Gift of Stephen C. Clark. Collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, N.Y.
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Cooperstown from Three Mile Point, ca. 1855. Louis Remy Mignot (1831-1870) and Julius Gollmann (active 1852-d. 1898). Bequest of William Festus Morgan. Collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, N.Y.

Between 1825 and 1875 a distinctive style of landscape painting emerged that all but replaced portraiture as the premier focus of painting in the United States. The group of artists who adopted this style is now loosely-termed as the Hudson River School. The scenery of New England and upstate New York was their earliest subject matter.

Thomas Cole, Thomas Doughty, and Asher Durand were among the early practitioners of this style. Hudson River School artists journeyed into the wilderness to sketch directly from nature, and their close, almost scientific observations of the American landscape were transformed into stunning canvases that celebrated America’s natural grandeur. In addition, these artists began to examine in their works important questions about the conflict between civilization and wilderness as well as the effects of increasing industrialization and westward expansion.