The Hudson River School rose to eminence in New York during the first half of the nineteenth century. This loosely knit group of artists, together with like-minded poets and writers, forged a self-consciously “American” landscape vision and literary voice. Both were grounded in the exploration of the natural world as a resource for spiritual renewal and as an expression of cultural and national identity. The Hudson River and the varied scenery along its banks, along with the Catskill, Adirondack, and White Mountains and beyond, provided the subjects for many of their landscape paintings.
The Poetry of Nature, comprised of some forty paintings by twenty-five artists ranging in date from 1818 to 1886, offers a varied survey of important paintings conceived in the style of the Hudson River School and further enriched by each artist’s personal vision. It also offers an opportunity to explore the exchanges of influence among a group of artists whose social and professional networks in New York City and at their favored sketching grounds established an artistic vision that we now recognize as the Hudson River School.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, The Hudson River School: Nature and the AmericanVision is a seminal survey of the artists in the outstanding collection at the New-York Historical Society. It features works by all the greatest artists of the group, including Thomas Cole, Asher Durand, Albert Bierstadt, and Frederic Church. Accompanying a major traveling exhibition, the book is also timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s first voyage up the Hudson River. In the mid-1800s, a group of painters based in New York turned their focus to the theme of the natural landscape to demonstrate the beauty of the wilderness. Their work enjoyed a popular national success that no other group of artists has achieved since.