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© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Hudson River School: Selected full-text books and articles

The Hudson River School By Danto, Arthur Coleman The Nation, Vol. 245, No. 15, November 7, 1987
Hudson River School: Painting Eden By Stern, Fred The World and I, Vol. 25, No. 10, October 2010
Hudson River Schooled By Panero, James New Criterion, Vol. 27, No. 1, September 2008
The Story of American Painting By Abraham A. Davidson; Harry N. Abrams, Inc H.N. Abrams, 1974
The Columbia Guide to American Environmental History By Carolyn Merchant Columbia University Press, 2002
Librarian's tip: "The Hudson River School of Painters" begins on p. 72
The Antebellum Period By James M. Volo; Dorothy Denneen Volo Greenwood Press, 2004
Librarian's tip: "The Hudson River School" begins on p. 342
Random Harvest By James Thomas Flexner Fordham University Press, 1998
Art in America: A Complete Survey By Holger Cahill; Alfred H. Barr Jr Reynal & Hitchcock, 1935
Librarian's tip: "The Hudson River School and Its Heirs" begins on p. 45
The American Artist and His Times By Homer Saint-Gaudens Dodd, Mead, 1941
Librarian's tip: "The Hudson River School" begins on p. 89
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