The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision

February 26, 2011June 19, 2011

Don’t miss the unique opportunity to see forty-five nineteenth-century landscape paintings from the New-York Historical Society (New York, New York) in the exhibition The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision.

Beginning in the 1820s, the American landscape became a significant theme for artists, who traveled up the Hudson River from New York City to sketch the rugged mountains and tranquil valleys along its banks. With the noted landscape painter Thomas Cole as their inspirational leader, these artists gave impetus to the first self-consciously “American” vision for landscape painting, a movement that would become known as the Hudson River School.

Today, a major repository of Hudson River School painting is housed at The New-York Historical Society (New York, New York), which is presently undergoing a comprehensive renovation. On this unusual occasion, the esteemed institution is sending forty-five of its treasured landscapes on a journey across the nation in 2011, and the first stop is Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

Leading figures of the Hudson River School are represented, including Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, Asher B. Durand, John Frederick Kensett, Jasper Francis Cropsey, and George Inness, among others. Arranged thematically, the exhibition illuminates the sites that artists depicted as resources for spiritual renewal, as well as potent symbols embodying powerful ideas about nature, culture, and history.

The exhibition follows a Grand Tour, originating with classic views of the Catskill Mountains before moving farther afield with paintings of the Adirondacks and White Mountains of New Hampshire. The final rooms of the exhibition feature a medley of paintings of remarkable scenes of the Ecuadorian Andes, the grand panoramas of the American West and the Arcadian visions of Italy.

The highlight of the installation is Cole’s monumental series of five canvases, The Course of Empire, which charts the cyclical history of an imaginary nation. Created between 1834 and 1836, the cycle is breathtaking in its wealth of detail from its initial scene of hunting in the wilderness to its concluding panel portraying the aftermath of an empire raged by its own decadence and corruption.

Accompanied by a full-length publication, The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision is organized by the New-York Historical Society. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. A Tru Vue Optium® Conservation Grant from The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works has supported glazing of the works in the exhibition.

The Fort Worth presentation is supported by the Katrine Menzing Deakins Trust and the Crystelle Waggoner Trust; U. S. Trust, Trustee.