Gorgeous Landscapes Born by Realism and Romance
The Hudson River School is an association of landscape painters that formed in the United States in the first half of the 19th century. Its authors created realistic paintings, but also paid tribute to romanticism and often idealized reality. The Hudson River School is considered the most significant phenomenon in American art of the 19th century. Its participants painted beautiful views of the then wild North American nature. First of all, the valley of the river that gave the name to this brotherhood, and mountain ranges in the state of New York. Over time, the geography expanded to other regions and countries.
The Hudson River School has brought together several dozen landscape painters belonging to two generations. Among the most famous painters of the Hudson School:
- Thomas Cole (1801-1848).
- Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902).
- Alfred Thompson Bricher (1851-1908).
- Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900).
- John William Casilear (1811-1893).
- Samuel Colman (1832-1920).
Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823-1900).
- Thomas Doughty (1793-1856).
- Robert Scott Duncanson (1821-1872).
- Asher Brown Durand (1796-1886).
- Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880).
- James McDougal Hart (1828-1901).
- William Hart (1823-1894).
- William Stanley Haseltine (1835-1900).
- Hermann Ottomar Herzog (1832-1932).
- Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904).
- George Hetzel (1826-1899).
- George Inness (1825-1894).
- David Johnson (1827-1908).
- John Frederick Kensett (1816-1872).
- Homer Dodge Martin (1836-1897).
- Jervis McEntee (1818-1891).
- Louis Rémy Mignot (1831-1870).
- Thomas Moran (1837-1926).
- Arthur Parton (1842-1914).
- William Trost Richards (1833-1905).
- Paul Ritter (1829-1907).
- Aaron Draper Shattuck (1832-1928).
- Francis Augustus Silva (1835-1886).
- William L. Sonntag (1822-1900).
- Jerome Thompson (1814-1886).
- Robert Walter Weir (1803-1889).
- Worthington Whittredge (1820-1910).
- Alexander Helwig Wyant (1836-1892).
- Paul Weber (1823-1916).
- William Mason Brown (1828-1898).
- Thomas Hill (1829-1908).
History of the Hudson River School
The Hudson River School was founded by the young painter Thomas Cole, who arrived in New York in 1825. Soon he traveled through the river valley and the Catskills to present to the public the vivid autumn landscapes. He attracted the attention of other artists who flocked to the most picturesque and untouched places. They created spectacular and romanticized paintings that arouse pride in the beauty of their native land. Asher Brown Durand became a friend and follower of Cole. Another of the first representatives of the trend is Thomas Doughty.
Thomas Cole died quite early, but the movement he founded continued to live it was in the second generation of artists that it reached its peak. The most famous and successful landscape painters of this period were Frederick Edwin Church and his main rival Albert Bierstadt. Young painters painted pictures in the style of luminism. Some of them became the founders of the New York Metropolitan Museum.
The best works of the Hudson School were created from the mid-19th century to the late 1870s.
During this period, exhibitions of American landscape painters aroused great interest. But by the end of the 19th century, the tastes of the public changed: the natural and soft landscapes of the Barbizon people began to be appreciated. In addition, the beauty of the wild landscapes has lost its former charm due to the growth of cities. What previously seemed like an elusive dream was now within walking distance of suburban areas. When Church and Bierstadt died in 1900 and 1902, these events went unnoticed: their former glory was already forgotten.
Interest in the works of the school returned after the world wars, which is associated with the growth of patriotic feelings among the US population. Also, the majestic landscapes reminded of the need to protect wildlife, contributed to the development of the environmental movement and the creation of national parks. For this they are appreciated in our time.
The main principles of the Hudson School
The artists of this association were inspired by the leading European landscape painters of the past, especially Claude Lorrain and John Constable. One of the most important principles of the Hudson School was to combine the strengths of realism and romanticism. From the first they took clarity and high detail, from the second expressiveness and emotionality.
Asher Durand perceived the perfect American landscapes as a visible manifestation of divine design. The authors sought to evoke a positive attitude towards life in the viewer and considered it appropriate to some idealization of reality. They painted wild landscapes or pastoral scenes where nature and man coexist in harmony. The value of technological progress was questioned instead, the pristine purity of lakes, forests and mountain slopes was glorified.
The most famous artists of the Hudson River School
Among the representatives of this association were both self-taught and painters with professional education received in Europe. They left behind a different level of creative heritage, but the best works are undoubtedly of high artistic value. Among the most famous artists of the Hudson River School are the following:
- Thomas Cole. The founder of this trend was born in England and moved to the United States with his parents at the age of 17. He painted many outstanding landscapes, one of the most famous being Kaaterskill Falls.
- Asher Brown Durand. This painter preferred to work from nature, and his paintings are characterized by maximum realism. Durant wrote that the sanctity of nature cannot be defiled by deliberate departure from the truth.
- Albert Bierstadt. An American artist with German roots created large-scale mountain landscapes with dramatic lighting. A mountain and a lake in Colorado are named after him.
- Frederick Edwin Church. A student of Thomas Cole, whose work is called the culmination of the school. He embodied the lyricism of the elders of the current, and the majesty of Bierstadt, and outstanding technical skills. “Niagara” brought him the fame of America’s premier landscape painter.
- John Frederick Kensett. The author of landscapes filled with light and air, painted in the spirit of luminism. Kensett learned a lot from Cole, but preferred a cold color scheme and a more restrained composition.
Women in the days of the Hudson School could not receive professional art education and exhibit their work. And yet, several female names are ranked among this trend. The greatest success was achieved by Julie Beers, who studied with her landscape brothers and exhibited with them.