Hudson River School

Hudson River school, group of American landscape painters, working from 1825 to 1875. The 19th-century romantic movements of England, Germany, and France were introduced to the United States by such writers as Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper. At the same time, American painters were studying in Rome, absorbing much of the romantic aesthetic of the European painters. Adapting the European ideas about nature to a growing pride in the beauty of their homeland, for the first time a number of American artists began to devote themselves to landscape painting instead of portraiture. They were particularly attracted by the grandeur of Niagara Falls and the scenic beauty of the Hudson River valley, the Catskills, and the White Mts. The works of these artists reflected a new concept of wilderness—one in which man was an insignificant intrusion in a landscape more beautiful than fearsome. First of the group of artists properly classified with the Hudson River school was Thomas Doughty; his tranquil works greatly influenced later artists of the school. Albert Bierstadt glorified the Rocky Mts. in the West, working in the same manner as the painters in the East. Thomas Cole, whose dramatic and colorful landscapes are among the most impressive of the school, may be said to have been its leader during the group's most active years. Among the other important painters of the school are Asher B. Durand, J. F. Kensett, S. F. B. Morse, Henry Inman, Jasper Cropsey, Frederick E. Church, and, in his earlier work, George Inness. See articles on individual painters.

See B. Novak, American Painting in the Nineteenth Century (1969); J. K. Howat, The Hudson River and Its Painters (1972); E. C. Parry 3d, The Art of Thomas Cole (1988); D. Schuyler, Sanctified Landscape: Writers, Artists, and the Hudson River Valley, 1820–1909 (2012).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Hudson River School and the Early American Landscape Tradition: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17 to May 18, 1945
Frederick A. Sweet.
Art Institute of Chicago, 1945
Art in America: A Complete Survey
Holger Cahill; Alfred H. Barr Jr.
Reynal & Hitchcock, 1935
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "American Painting 1865-1934"
Random Harvest
James Thomas Flexner.
Fordham University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "American Painting" begins on p. 69
Maverick's Progress: An Autobiography
James Thomas Flexner.
Fordham University Press, 1996
American Painting of the Nineteenth Century: Realism, Idealism, and the American Experience
Barbara Novak.
Icon Editions, 1979 (2nd edition)
Modern American Painting
Peyton Boswell Jr.
Dodd Mead, 1940
Critical Issues in American Art: A Book of Readings
Mary Ann Calo.
Westview Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "Thomas Cole and Jacksonian America: The Course of Empire as Political Allegory"
A Concise History of American Painting and Sculpture
Matthew Baigell.
Icon Editions, 1996 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Landscape Painting" begins on p. 69
The Catskills: An Illustrated Historical Guide with Gazetteer
Arthur G. Adams.
Fordham University Press, 1990
The Hudson River Guidebook
Arthur G. Adams.
Fordham University Press, 1996 (2nd Rev. edition)
The Columbia Guide to American Environmental History
Carolyn Merchant.
Columbia University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: "The Hudson River School of Painters" begins on p. 72
The American Artist and His Times
Homer Saint-Gaudens.
Dodd, Mead, 1941
Librarian’s tip: "The Hudson River School" begins on p. 89
The Antebellum Period
James M. Volo; Dorothy Denneen Volo.
Greenwood Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "The Hudson River School" begins on p. 342
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