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Overview of the Hudson River School of Artist

Written by Brett Nelson

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Posted on September 19 2019

Founded in the United States by the well-known American artist Thomas Cole in 1825, the Hudson River School came to light and caused an interest to arise among the population, as it was offering something new to the table, that both educated and caused pride about the wonderful landscape of this country.


The Hudson River School was an art movement that was embodied by a couple of talented landscape painters, who were inspired by romanticism when it came to their aesthetic vision. Some of the members of this school were Sanford Robinson Gifford, John Frederick Kensett, Albert Bierstadt, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Robert Duncanson, and Frederic Edwin Church. All of these artists went the extra mile to create magnificent paintings to captivate the attention of the public. Their paintings were very realistic-looking and thus mentally transported viewers to the scene. Thanks to their one-of-a-kind works, these painters were able to leave a legacy behind that has been able to reach millions of people around the globe, especially Americans.


The paintings of this movement reflect three themes that were taken place in the 19th century in the United States: settlement, exploration, and discovery. At this school, the American landscape was depicted as a pastoral setting, where nature and individuals are peaceful. The artists at Hudson River School strongly believed that nature in the United States was a manifestation of the Lord. Their goal when painting was to remind Americans of the untamed, vast, but magnificent wilderness present in the country. A lot of their works were painted during the period of settlement in the west, establishment of green city parks, and the preservation of national parks. In general, their works depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, including the White Mountains, Adirondack, and Catskill. The second generation of artists of this school expanded to other areas and included other areas of New England, South America, and also the Maritimes. No matter what the talented members of this school painted, they surely attained a lot of attention for their works, as the majority of American artists at that time were more interested in doing portraits than painting landscapes.


Some the most popular paintings of the Hudson River School artists are the Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains (1868) by Albert Bierstadt, Mount Washington (1869) by John Frederick Kensett, Niagara Falls (1857) by Frederic Edwin Church, A View of the Two Lakes, The Catskills (1859) by Asher Brown Durand, and Mountain House (no specific year of creation available) by Thomas Cole.


More than a handful of the painting scenes were constructed as a synthesis of many scenes or natural images that were observed by the artists. In order to attain visual data for their paintings, the artists would go to extreme and extraordinary environments, some of which had conditions that did not permit them to paint for an extended period of time at the site. For this reason, during their travels, the artists recorded memories and sketches in order to return to their studios and get down to business.


These artists used to spend meaningful amounts of time working on their paintings, as they wanted to showcase only the finest creations to the public. They used to unite together to discuss their ideas before proceeding to make them come to live. They were like a big happy family. A lot of experts in the field have stated that most of the finest works from this school were painted between 1855 and 1875.


Even though the Hudson River School stopped being an active institution after 1880, the works that were created by the members of it are still available to be viewed by the public. One of the largest collections is at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. This collection includes eleven landscape paintings by Frederic Edwin Church and thirteen landscape paintings by Thomas Cole, among others. There are other collections located at museums across the United States that showcase the skillful talent of these painters, who gave it their all to showcase the wonderful landscape of the United States so that everybody could love their surroundings and thus not take them for granted, as well as to appreciate a good piece of art.

View Hudson River School Collections.