Green River Cliffs, Wyoming - Thomas Moran - 1881
Let's just get this out of the way: the Hudson River School is my opinion of ultimate landscape art. I occasionally paint -- I copy existing paintings onto wood board with acrylics, that is -- and I always go back to Hudson River School paintings. I edit my own crappy iPhone landscape photos to look more HRS and follow the spiritual successors of that great American art movement on Instagram.
El Rio de Luz - Frederic Edwin Church - 1877
The Hudson River School was late-19th century art movement rooted in Romanticism-inspired landscape, begun in the Hudson River Valley of New York state. It spread to New England, the American West, and was essentially the aesthetic ancestor of much art and imagery produced of the American wilderness thereafter.
Tamaca Palms - Frederic Edwin Church - 1854
Not all of the art in this post is HRS by any means, but I've tried to front-load them so you can get a sense of the style. It's not subtle at all. It's brash and bold and makes me -- figuratively speaking -- want to start a USA! USA! chant in the middle of a museum.
Buffalo Trail: the Impending Storm - Albert Bierstadt - 1869
Wikiart is another good place to look at more HRS art, and you'll quickly find that some of the works depict places in the world of not-America. That's okay, that's okay.
Niagara - Frederic Edwin Church - 1857
Here is my opinion on the significance of the Hudson River School. I wrote a short essay about it for a class last fall, but I have forgotten the sources and will just summarize briefly here. In the early "modern" era -- post-Enlightenment -- western society became disenchanted with nature, a previously vital and powerful, unpredictable and dangerous place where gods did their work. The march towards a worldview of controlling nature came on the heels of many Greek philosophers, the Abrahamic religions, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment. In the mid-late 1800s, there was a surge of art and literature -- Emerson and Thoreau are the obvious answers -- to reclaim enchantment with nature.
The Last of the Buffalo - Albert Bierstadt - 1888
Mount Corcoran - Albert Bierstadt - 1877
That's all I'll say about HRS. To get the same feel of the American wild via text, I recommend John Muir.
The National Gallery of Art has a great collection of these paintings, and I do love them.
Natural Arch at Capri - William Stanley Haseltine - 1871
Ruins of the Parthenon - Sanford Robinson Gifford - 1880
The Voyage of Life - Thomas Cole - 1842
Thomas Cole was a founder of the HRS, and his work is pretty much amazing all around. Romanticism galore and allegories here and there. Analyses of his landscape works will tell a lot about that movement, certainly better than I can here.
Left: Portrait of George Washington - Rembrandt Peale - 1795-1823
Right: Washington before Yorktown - Rembrandt Peale - 1824
Indian Gallery - George Catlin
Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still upon Gibeon - John Martin - 1860
Left: The Japanese Footbridge - Claude Monet - 1899
Right: an atrium in the National Gallery
The Edge of the Forest at Les Monts-Girard, Fontainebleau - Narcisse Diaz de la Peña - 1868
Left: Madonna and Child with Angels - Orcagna and Jacopo di Cione - before 1370
Right: The Adoration of the Magi - Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi - c. 1440/1460
Left: Ginevra de' Benci, obverse - Leonardo da Vinci - c. 1474/1478
Right: its reverse
Landscape with the Flight into Egypt - Roelandt Savery - 1624
Saint George and the Dragon - Sodoma - 1518
As a prelude to my Germany posts, I really like dragon and serpent imagery. Just a warning for many dragon pictures to come.
Left: Flowers in a Basket and a Vase - Jan Brueghel the Elder - 1615
Right: Still Life with Artichokes and a Parrot - Italian 17th century
Left: Still Life with Flowers and Fruit - Jan van Huysum - 1715
Right: The Larder - Antonio Maria Vassallo - c. 1650/1660
Left: The Hydrogen Man - Leonard Baskin - 1954
Right: Booster - Robert Rauschenberg - 1967
Riders of the Apocalypse - Benton Murdoch Spruance - 1943
Just to show that I'm not entirely about glory, glory, Hallelujah USA, this is one of my clear favorites from the museum. I feel a little silly, but it gives a very Guernica-like feeling, but with the aggressors being American planes (check out the stars on the fuselage).
Anyhow, the next post is very aircraft-heavy. I like planes.