Hudson River Schoolon Oct 25 by alinquist55
HUDSON RIVER SCHOOL
In the 19th century, American art was almost nonexistent or, at least, hardly known. It did have a few artists of some renown, such as historical painter Benjamin West or portraitists Gilbert Stuart and John Copley. These artists leaned heavily on the European style taught in the art schools of London, but they attempted to present American ideas and themes, whether it was an Indian attack in John Vanderlyn’s The Death Of Jane McCrea or scientific curiosity in Charles Peale’s The Exhumation Of The Mastadon.
As America developed from it’s foothold on the eastern seaboard, artists started to follow. In particular, up the Hudson River. Since the days of Dutch colonization, the Hudson had been the route of settlement for New Yorkers. From Manhattan, they traveled north to Albany and points beyond. Settlers traveled inland cautiously but once the Eric Canal was built in the 1820’s, a flood of settlers swept through New York on their way to setting up their personal empires around the Great Lakes.
With that wave came Thomas Cole. Cole was born and raised in England but his parents left England for Ohio. There, he learned what he could from an itinerant artist before moving on to Philadelphia. Mostly self-taught, he accepted an offer to travel up the Hudson River to paint landscapes, after selling several of his pieces in New York City. The paintings that he completed on this journey gave a name to a vague movement of landscape artists.
The Hudson River pieces were spotted by Asher B. Durand. Durand would befriend Cole, and the two would take trips up the Hudson and out into the Catskills and Adirondacks to sketch and paint the changing wilderness. Although Cole died fairly early, he left a landscaping legacy. Frederick Church, a student of Cole’s, and John Kensett, who worked with Durand, both followed in their elders’ footsteps. But the styles of Church and Kensett differed from the heavy, forest primeval paintings of Cole and Durand. They were the next generation of Americans. The second wave of the Hudson River School was more interested in atmosphere and light. Sunsets peaked through breaking clouds or shined from around the edges of mountains. Light glowed in fog, shimmered off of lakes and peered through the smoke of an active volcano.
The last person to be grouped with the Hudson River School was Albert Bierstadt, a German immigrant who brought his Dusseldorf art training to Massachusetts. Although his roots and landscape style were set in New England, it was the American West that he would paint in a glowing, romantic style that some would complain was a little too mythical.