The Hudson River school represents the first native genre of distinctly American art. The school began to produce art works in the early 1820s; comprised of a group of loosely organized painters who took as their subject the unique naturalness of the undeveloped American continent, starting with the Hudson River region in New York, but eventually extending through space and time all the way to California and the 1870s. During the period, that the school’s artists were active (c. 1820-1870) the nation was in the process of undergoing momentous political, social, and economic change. The works that the Hudson River School painters comprised reflected the changes that were taking place across the continent as well as the self-conceptualization taking place in an ever developing and ever changing America.
Many consider Thomas Cole to be the father of the Hudson River School because of an exhibition he had organized in New York City. The exhibition, which took place in 1825, displayed many of the paintings he had made during a trip up the Hudson River. Thomas Cole had the clearest vision of what the artists of the School were seeking to accomplish in their painting and how the images that they were creating complimented the American concept of national character. Ironically, Cole was not American by birth. Born in England in 1801, Cole did not immigrate to the United States until he was twenty years old. Cole wrote an essay titled: Essay on American Scenery, which was published in a prominent Colonial magazine. American Monthly published Cole’s essay in January of 1836. In the essay, Cole addressed nature as the characteristic that set America apart from Europe.
Cole and the other artist that were part of the genre thought of the American continent as the Garden of Eden. Subsequently they developed their own individual iconography that was expressive of the vision that America was in fact a garden, which had been provincially set aside by god for his chosen people, the Americans. For instance, lakes represented the “eye of the human countance” a mirror reflecting the undertones of the rest of the landscape, and, most importantly, linking the sky to the earth. Thus, the linking of Sky and Earth was inferring to the feeling of closeness that one got as he looked upon the American Landscape and marveled at how close it ...
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... Hunter, John Jacobus, Naomi Rosenblum and David M. Sokol, American Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Decorative Arts, Photography, Englewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall, 1979
Motley F. Deakin, The Home Books of the Picturesque: or American Scenery, Art, and Literature, Gainseville, Scholar's Facsimiles and Reprints, 1967
Angela Miller, The Empire of the Eye: Landscape Representation and American Cultural Politics, 1825-1875, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1993
Perry Miller, Nature's Nation, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1967
Barbara Novak, Nature and Culture: American Landscape Painting 1825-1875, New York, Oxford University Press, 1995
Jules David Prown, Nancy K. Anderson, William Cronon, Brian W. Dippie, Martha A. Sandweiss, Susan P. Schoelwer and Howard R. Lamar, Discovered Lands, Invented Pasts: Transforming Visions of the American West, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1992
John R. Stilgoe, Common Landscape of America: 1508 to 1845, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1982
Vitaly Komar & Alex Melamid's Most Wanted Paintings on the Web: http://www.diacenter.org/km/
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC: http://www.nga.gov/
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