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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 Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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