Guest Author - Megan Romer
When talking about the Hudson River School of painting, it's important to note that sometimes, groups of painters are referred to as a "school" - more like a school of fish than a high school, so to speak. For example, Monet and Manet are considered to be members of the Impressionist School.
That said, the Hudson River School of painting is one of the most important American painting movements. The artists of the Hudson River School painted in the mid-1800s, and were influenced by European romantic-era artists (visual artists, as well as poets, writers, and composers).
Hudson River School painters focused on soft, natural landscapes. Obviously, the Hudson River itself was a popular subject, but so were the Adirondack Mountains, the Catskills, as well as mountains in New Hampshire and Vermont. The look of the paintings was somewhat related to the romantic-era ideal that natural beauty was the direct work of God, and that beautiful natural vistas were, in a sense, Heaven on Earth.
One of the best-known Hudson River School painters, and the founder of the movement, was Thomas Cole. Cole was an Englishman who has a semi-successful career as a painter in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York City. When an art buyer financed a trip to the Hudson Valley for Cole, and when he returned with three beautiful landscapes, he began getting real critical attention. He eventually moved to the Catskills and continued to paint successfully for the rest of his life.
Other important Hudson River School artists include Asher B. Durand, Frederic Edwin Church, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Robert Scott Duncanson, William Stanley Haseltine, Martin Johnson Heade, Thomas Moran, and Robert Walter Weir.
Hudson River School paintings can still be seen in many galleries throughout New York State, and the world. Some great places to see Hudson River School paintings are:
-The Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York. The MWP owns a complete original set of Thomas Cole paintings that make up a series called "The Voyage of Life."
-The New-York Historical Society in New York City. The NY Historical Society owns a large collection of Hudson River School paintings, including paintings by Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Jasper Cropsey, and many more.
-The Olana State Historic Site. This house, also known as the Frederic E. Church house, is a grand and ornate Victorian mansion with incredible views of the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. Dozens of Church's paintings are on display here.