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Art History Resources: (Artists, Art Movements, Biographies, Artwork)

Art History: Hudson River School: (1825 - 1875)

The Hudson River School was comprised of a group of painters who created realistic, romanticized works, particularly in New York’s Hudson River Valley. Led by Thomas Cole, other artists in the School chose subject matter such as the lakes, gorges, and forests of the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains. The movement was inspired by 17th century European landscape painters such as the Nazarenes and Caspar David Friedrich in Germany and Joseph Turner Constable in England. Despite these influences, one of the School’s goals was to ignore overseas traditions in order to create a distinctive concept of American art.

The movement began in 1825, when other artists discovered that Cole was using landscape painting as an expressive tool and suggesting communication with God through nature. Seeing the sacred aspects of the natural environment became an aim amongst the Hudson River School. The American art journal, The Crayon, began publishing many of the School’s paintings to go along with their literary works by writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Cullen Bryant, and James Fennimore Cooper. The Hudson River School artists and these writers both promoted the idea that God and nature were one.

Hudson River School paintings were often panoramic views done in a romantic, somewhat realist style. They suggested an atmosphere of serenity and meditation. The artists used the effects of light to depict dramatic landscapes, particularly of sunsets and water. This technique became known as Luminism. Artists using this technique wished to portray emotions through the bold contrasts between light and dark.

The Hudson River School is known for elevating landscape painting to a legitimate and respected painting subject and depicting a distinctively American setting. It was dominant until after the Civil War when Impressionism and other European-based modern movements replaced the style.

Artists: (biography & artworks) Related Paintings Reproductions

Church, Frederic Edwin - 1826 - 1900
Cole, Thomas - 1801 - 1848
Doughty, Thomas - 1793 - 1856
Durand, Asher B - 1796 - 1886
Inness, George - 1825 - 1894


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