The Hudson River School American Art 1820-1870 Donna M. Campbell, Washington State University Note: Unfortunately, this slide show does not work well in Firefox. Use Internet Explorer if you want to see all the pictures and notes.
Background: pre-1825 • Portraiture • European influence • American “Naive” style • Flat design, spare painting (Ammi Phillips, 1788-1865) • Landscapes • Often appear as detail of portraiture: property seen through an open window indicates wealth • Washington Allston’s imaginary landscapes
European influence: • John Singleton Copley, Paul Revere, 1768
Naïve style • Ammi Phillips, Portrait of Harriet Campbell, 1815
Naïve style • Edward Hicks, The Peaceable Kingdom (1834)
Formal Principles • Not merely topographic but interpretive and poetic views of nature • Formal composition and attention to detail • Depictions of harmony in nature
Subjects • “Home in the Wilderness” • Juncture of civilization and wilderness: “Wilderness on the doorstep” • Incursions of civilization and progress
Thomas Cole, Daniel Boone Sitting at the Door of his Cabin on the Great Osage Lake, Kentucky, 1826
Style Juxtaposition of elements Use of panoramic views and small human figures to show immensity of nature and insignificance of human beings Distant or elevated perspective for the viewer Symbolic use of light and darkness Contrast of diverse elements to show the unity of nature
Thomas Cole, Scene from Last of the Mohicans”: Cora Kneeling at the Feet of Tamenund (1827)
Sublime, Beautiful, Picturesque • Longinus, On the Sublime (AD 50) • Resulting from spirit--a spark from writer to reader--rather than technique • Edmund Burke, Philosophical Inquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757-1759) • Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment (1790) • Beauty is finite; the sublime is infinite
The Beautiful • Feminine qualities • Harmony • Sociability • Pastels • Sensual curves
Burke on the Sublime • Painful idea creates a sublime passion • Sublime concentrates the mind on a single facet of experience, producing a momentary suspension of rational activity • Harsh, antisocial, “masculine” representations exist in the realm of obscurity and brute force
The Sublime • “Agreeable horror” results from portrayals of threatening objects • Greater aesthetic value if the pain producing the effect is imaginary rather than real • Feelings of awe at sublime nature the aim of certain kinds of art • Influenced Poe, the “Graveyard School” of poetry, and Gothic novels
Picturesque • Intermediate category between the sublime and the beautiful • Allowed the painter to organize nature into what Pope called a “wild civility” • William Gilpin: illustrated tours in the 1790s established the conventions
Characteristics of the Picturesque • Ruggedness and asymmetry • Irregularity of line • Contrasts of light and shadow • Landscape as a rundown Arcadia • Ruined towers, fractured rocks • Mossy banks and winding streams • Blighted or twisted trees • Appeal to nostalgia for preindustrial age
Thomas Cole, Roman Campagna (Ruins of Aqueducts in the Campagna di Roma), 1843
The Hudson River School • Thomas Cole (1801-1848) • Asher B. Durand (1796-1886) • Thomas Doughty (1793-1856) • John William Casilear
Thomas Cole (1801-1848) • Discovered in 1825 by • John Trumbull, • William Dunlap • Asher B. Durand • “The subject of art should be pure and lofty . . .a moral, religious, or poetic effect must be produced on the mind.”
Thomas Cole • Lake withDead Trees (1825) • The painting that made Cole famous.
Allegorical and realistic landscapes: The Voyage of Life (Childhood) , 1842
Thomas Cole, A View of the Mountain Pass Called the Notch of the White Mountains (Crawford Notch), 1839
Asher B. Durand (1796-1886) • Began as an engraver; turned to painting • “Letters on Landscape Painting” (1855) in The Crayon • “Go first to nature to learn to paint landscape.”
Asher B. Durand, Kindred Spirits (1849) • Thomas Cole and William Cullen Bryant • See Bryant’s “To Cole, the Painter, Departing for Europe.”
Panoramists and Luminists • Second Generation of Hudson River school • Style of Hudson River painters applied to other regions: • Rocky Mountains • South America
Practitioners • Jasper Cropsey (1823-1900) • Frederic E. Church (1826-1900) • John Frederick Kensett (1816-1873) • George Inness (1825-1894) • Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)
Jasper Cropsey (1823-1900) • Imitator of Cole’s allegorical works • Panorama of Pilgrim’s Progress: • Sixty large scenes unrolled to music and lectures. • Panorama was eight feet high by 850’ long. • Entire presentation took about two hours.
Frederick Edwin Church • Thomas Cole’s major pupil • Full-length “showpiece” landscapes • Falls of Niagara (1857) • Heart of the Andes (1859) • Landscape as symbol of divine • American continent as new Eden • Painted from nature, not notes and sketches
Frederick Edwin Church, Falls of Niagara (1857) Compare this painting with a photograph taken near the same spot in 2000.
George Inness (1825-1894) • The Lackawanna Valley (1855) • Landscape meditation on relation of man and nature • Harmonious integration of man’s progress and landscape • Unlike Cole: “A work of art does not appeal to the moral sense. Its aim is not to instruct and edify, but to awaken an emotion.”
Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) • One of first major artists to explore the West • The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak (1863) • A Storm in the Rocky Mountains (1866) • Yosemite Valley (1875)