Thursday, April 5, 2012

American Scenery: Different Views in Hudson River School Painting

Homer Dodge Martin
Saranac Lake (Morning), ca. 1857
Oil on canvas

This spring The Blanton Museum is pleased to present American Scenery: Different Views in Hudson River School Painting, featuring 116 paintings from the Hudson River School, a loose collective of artists working in upstate New York from 1825-1875, whose works comprised America’s first native artistic style. Artists included in the Hudson River School, and represented in The Blanton’s presentation, are Thomas Cole, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Sanford Robinson Gifford, Asher B. Durand, Frederic Edwin Church, John Frederick Kensett, and John William Casilear, among others. Assembled from a single private collection, this touring exhibition is organized by the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

This new exhibition features paintings by Hudson River School artists thematically arranged in pairs, series, and groups to emphasize certain collective ideas. These artists shared a belief in natural religion, the magnificence of nature, and, specifically, the significance of the fresh, untamed American scenery, which reflected our national character. Considered by many to be the first truly American school of painting, the Hudson River School flourished between 1825 and 1875.

Jasper Francis Cropsey
Lake George, 1877
Oil on canvas
Private collection

Founded in 1825 by Thomas Cole, the Hudson River School drew its inspiration from America’s landscape. Its artists shared a spiritual awe of nature and believed in the notion that the country’s untamed wilderness reflected aspects of its national character. American Scenery investigates the group’s shared aesthetic and philosophical principles and situates the paintings in the context of nineteenth-century American values.

The exhibition’s unique point of view stresses the artist’s eye, pairing and grouping paintings that explore the visual characteristics of particular sites, or that examine the subtle changes that can be observed during varied seasons, times of day, and weather conditions.