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Bierstadt, Albert  

Nancy Anderson

(b Solingen, Germany, Jan 7, 1830; d New York, Feb 18, 1902).

American painter of German birth. In a career spanning the entire second half of the 19th century, Bierstadt emerged as the first technically sophisticated artist to travel to the Far West of America, adapt European and Hudson River School prototypes to a new landscape and produce paintings powerful in their nationalistic and religious symbolism.

Bierstadt spent his early years in New Bedford, MA, where his family settled two years after his birth. Lacking funds for formal art instruction, he spent several years as an itinerant drawing instructor before departing in 1853 for Düsseldorf, Germany, where he hoped to study with Johann Peter Hasenclever, a distant relative and a celebrated member of the Düsseldorf art circle. Hasenclever’s death shortly before Bierstadt’s arrival altered the course of his study, for rather than finding German mentors, he responded to the generous assistance offered by fellow American artists Emanuel Leutze and Worthington Whittredge. After four years of study and travel in Germany, Switzerland and Italy, he had achieved a remarkable level of technical expertise. In ...


Blakelock, Ralph Albert  

Lauretta Dimmick

(b New York, Oct 15, 1847; d Elizabethtown, NY, Aug 9, 1919).

American painter. One of the most important visionary artists in late 19th-century America, Blakelock was self-taught as a painter. From 1867 he was exhibiting landscapes in the style of the Hudson River school at the National Academy of Design in New York. Rather than going abroad for advanced training, like most of his contemporaries, he spent the years 1869–72 in the western USA. Back in New York, Blakelock evolved his personal style during the 1870s and 1880s. Eschewing literal transcriptions of nature, he preferred to paint evocative moonlit landscapes such as Moonlight (Washington, DC, Corcoran Gal. A.). These paintings, almost never dated, often included campfires or solitary figures, but such elements were absorbed into the setting rather than being the painting’s focus, as in Moonlight Indian Encampment (Washington, DC, N. Mus. Amer. A.). Blakelock’s images, imbued with a melancholy that had been evident even in his early work, drew on his deeply felt response to nature....


Casilear, John William  

John Driscoll

(b New York, June 25, 1811; d Saratoga Springs, NY, Aug 17, 1893).

American engraver, draughtsman and painter. At 15 he was apprenticed to the engraver Peter Maverick (1780–1871) and then to Asher B. Durand. Casilear and his brother George formed a business partnership that eventually developed into the American Bank Note Co., the principal private bank-note engravers in America. He was perhaps the most fluent and accomplished draughtsman of his generation, and important collections of his landscape drawings are in the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Casilear was an exponent of the Hudson River school of landscape painting. Such works as Lake George (1860; Hartford, CT, Wadsworth Atheneum) and his views of Genesee Valley, NY, and Niagara Falls manifest the refined colour, restrained brushwork and ordered composition typical of that group. Casilear’s compositions are firmly drawn and articulated through a subtle palette that explores the value and saturation of hues.

In 1833 Casilear was elected an Associate at the National Academy of Design, New York, based on his engravings and in ...


Church, Frederic Edwin  

Franklin Kelly

(b Hartford, CT, May 4, 1826; d New York, April 7, 1900).

American painter. He was a leading representative of the second generation of the Hudson River school, who made an important contribution to American landscape painting in the 1850s and 1860s. The son of a wealthy and prominent businessman, he studied briefly in Hartford with two local artists, Alexander Hamilton Emmons (1816–84) and Benjamin Hutchins Coe (1799–1883). Thanks to the influence of the Hartford patron Daniel Wadsworth, in 1844 he became the first pupil accepted by Thomas Cole. This was an unusual honour, though Cole probably offered little useful technical instruction—he once observed that Church already had ‘the finest eye for drawing in the world’. However, Cole did convey certain deeply held ideas about landscape painting, above all the belief that the artist had a moral duty to address not only the physical reality of the external world but also complex and profound ideas about mankind and the human condition. Church eventually abandoned the overtly allegorical style favoured by his teacher, but he never wavered from his commitment to the creation of meaningful and instructive images....


Clarke, Thomas B(enedict)  

Lillian B. Miller

(b New York, Dec 11, 1848; d New York, Jan 18, 1931).

American businessman, collector, patron and dealer. He began collecting art in 1869 with paintings by American Hudson River school artists and conventional European works, Chinese porcelain, antique pottery and 17th- and 18th-century English furniture. By 1883 his taste had focused entirely on American works, especially on paintings by George Inness and Winslow Homer. By dealing in such works and by giving frequent exhibitions, Clarke enhanced the popularity of these artists, while also realizing large profits for himself. His founding of Art House, New York, in 1890 confirms the profit motive behind his collecting practices. The most notable sale of his paintings took place in 1899, when he sold at auction 373 contemporary American works at a profit of between 60 and 70%. Four landscapes by Inness—Grey, Lowery Day (c. 1876–7; untraced), Delaware Valley (1865; New York, Met.), Clouded Sun (1891; Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mus. A.) and Wood Gatherers: Autumn Afternoon...


Cole, Thomas  

Angela L. Miller

(b Bolton-le-Moor, Lancs, Feb 1, 1801; d Catskill, NY, or 11, 12).

American painter and poet of English birth. Cole was the leading figure in American landscape painting during the first half of the 19th century and had a significant influence on the painters of the Hudson River school, among them Jasper Cropsey, Asher B. Durand and Frederic Church (Cole’s only student). In the 1850s these painters revived the moralizing narrative style of landscape in which Cole had worked during the 1830s. From the 1850s the expressive, Romantic landscape manner of Cole was eclipsed by a more direct and objective rendering of nature, yet his position at the beginning of an American landscape tradition remained unchallenged (for an example of his work, see View on the Catskill—Early Autumn, 1836–37; New York, Met.).

He spent his first 17 years in Lancashire. Industrialized since the 18th century, Lancashire provided a stark contrast to the wilderness Cole encountered when he followed his family to Steubenville, OH, via Philadelphia, in ...


Colman, Samuel (ii)  

Merrill Halkerston

(b Portland, ME, March 4, 1832; d New York, March 26, 1920).

American painter, interior designer and writer. Colman grew up in New York, where his father, Samuel Colman, ran a successful publishing business. The family bookstore on Broadway, a popular meeting place for artists, offered Colman early introductions to such Hudson River school painters as Asher B(rown) Durand, with whom he is said to have studied briefly around 1850. Having won early recognition for his paintings of popular Hudson River school locations (see Storm King on the Hudson), he was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design in New York in 1854. Most of Colman’s landscapes of the 1850s, for example Meadows and Wildflowers at Conway (1856; Poughkeepsie, NY, Vassar Coll., Frances Lehman Loeb A. Cent.), reveal the influence of the Hudson River school. An avid traveller, he embarked on his first European tour in 1860, visiting France, Italy, Switzerland and the more exotic locales of southern Spain and Morocco. His reputation was secured in the 1860s by his numerous paintings of romantic Spanish sites, notably the large ...


Cropsey, Jasper F(rancis)  

William S. Talbot

(b Rossville, Staten Island, NY, Feb 18, 1823; d Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, June 22, 1900).

American painter and architect. Cropsey was a practising architect by 1843, but in that year he also exhibited a landscape painting, to favourable reviews, at the National Academy of Design, in New York. He greatly admired Thomas Cole for his dramatic use of the American landscape, but Cropsey brought to his panoramic vistas a more precise recording of nature, as in View of Greenwood Lake, New Jersey (1845; San Francisco, CA, de Young Mem. Mus.). Such vastness and detail impressed the viewer with both the grandeur and the infinite complexity of nature and indicated a universal order. In 1847 Cropsey made his first trip to Europe, settling in Rome among a circle of American and European painters. His eye for detail in recording nature was encouraged by the Nazarenes, and his American sympathy for historical and literary subjects was sharpened by the antiquities of Italy. In 1848 Cropsey was in Naples, where the work of contemporary painters may have inspired the bold massing, deep space and brilliant lighting in ...


Doughty, Thomas  

Edward J. Nygren

(b Philadelphia, PA, July 19, 1793; d New York, NY, July 24, 1856).

American painter. Doughty belonged to the generation of American landscape painters that included Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand and was an important precursor of the Hudson River school. Basically self-taught, he worked as a leather currier in Philadelphia, PA, before becoming an artist. In 1816 Doughty exhibited Landscape—Original (untraced) at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Four years later he listed himself in the Philadelphia directory as a landscape painter. Old Master landscapes (or copies) exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy, together with contemporary European paintings and compositions by fellow Philadelphians Thomas Birch and Joshua Shaw, access to major private collections (such as those of his patron Robert Gilmor jr of Baltimore, MD, and Joseph Bonaparte of Bordentown, NJ), engravings, and artists’ manuals all contributed to his knowledge of the European landscape tradition. Among Doughty’s earliest surviving landscapes are View of Baltimore from Beech Hill, the Seat of Robert Gilmor jr...


Duncanson, Robert  

Joseph D. Ketner II

revised by Wendy Jean Katz and Shana Klein


(b Fayette, Seneca County, NY, ?1821; d Detroit, MI, Dec 21, 1872).

African American painter. He was a self-taught artist and landscape painter of the Hudson River school tradition (see fig.). Born into a family of painters and handymen, Duncanson first worked as a house-painter and glazier in Monroe, MI. By 1841 he was in Cincinnati, OH, where he learned to paint by executing portraits and copying prints. There, he also would have been exposed to the fine arts in local venues that developed such as the National Portrait and Historical Gallery, the Western Art Union, and the art collections of Cincinnati art patrons. Throughout the 1840s he traveled as an itinerant artist between Cincinnati, Monroe, and Detroit, places that had larger populations of free Black people and were relatively hospitable to African Americans compared with slave territories further south. His early work included portraits of local abolitionists, educators, and horticulturists, as well as a few genre subjects, and “chemical” paintings for paying exhibition. Early on in his career, Duncanson also painted a number of still lifes of fruits and flowers, some of which won critical praise and awards, and earned him admission to the American Art Union in 1850 (...


Durand, Asher B(rown)  

J. Gray Sweeney

(b Springfield Township, NJ, Aug 21, 1796; d Maplewood, NJ, Sept 17, 1886).

American painter and engraver. Durand has long been considered a key figure of the Hudson River school of American landscape painting. Durand was born into a working-class family, the eighth of eleven children, in Maplewood, NJ (then called Jefferson Village), and died in his father’s house at age 90. His father was a watchmaker and silversmith, and in 1812 Durand was apprenticed to the engraver Peter Rushton Maverick. Durand achieved his first success by engraving John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence (1823), and he engraved Ariadne (1835) after John Vanderlyn’s painting (1812). He also was commissioned to engrave banknotes. In 1825 he played an important role in organizing the New York Drawing Association, which eventually became the National Academy of Design. He remained active in the Academy’s affairs throughout his career. Durand first began painting in the 1830s, producing portraits of leading historical and literary figures. In ...


Fisher, Alvan  

Fred B. Adelson


(b Needham, MA, Aug 9, 1792; d Dedham, MA, Feb 13, 1863).

American painter. Soon after he left the tutelage of John Ritto Penniman (c. 1782–1841), he began to paint genre landscapes such as Winter in Milton, Massachusetts (1815; Montclair, NJ, A. Mus.), which depicts a man on a horse-drawn sleigh enjoying the beauty of a fresh New England snowfall. In this work the artist seems more concerned with presenting an image of peacefulness than with the specific identification of the site. Despite its early date, the painting suggests the influence of Claude Lorrain as well as 17th-century Dutch winter scenes.

Although Fisher regularly accepted portrait commissions, which proved to be a staple of his income, his career demonstrates an appreciation of and continual commitment to the depiction of East Coast scenery. He was one of America’s earliest landscape painters and an important member of the Hudson River school. Fisher travelled extensively: by 1820 he had sketched along the Connecticut River Valley and at Niagara Falls. The tiny figures in the foreground of ...


Gifford, Sanford Robinson  

Dennis Raverty

(b Greenfield, NY, July 10, 1823; d New York, Aug 24, 1880).

American painter. Gifford belonged to the second generation of 19th-century Romantic landscape painters who resided principally in New York State, often referred to collectively as the Hudson River school. Gifford is usually grouped with the Luminists (see Luminism), a subgroup among the school who share an interest in the effects of light. Art historian Ila Weiss concludes in his monograph on the artist, however, that Gifford should properly be called an ‘Arial Luminist’ because, in contrast to the clear, crystalline lucidity of the other artists, his treatment of light is often filtered through hazy veils of moisture, which helps establish an overall tonal unity in the picture and at the same time, because of the sheer palpability of the illuminated atmosphere, creates a Romantic evocation of light as a metaphor for the divine presence in nature (see fig.).

After a few semesters of study at Brown University in Providence, RI, in his late teens, Gifford moved to New York City, where he studied drawing, perspective, and anatomy privately with English watercolourist John Rubens Smith (...


Gignoux, Régis-François  

John Driscoll

(b Lyon, 1816; d Paris, Aug 6, 1882).

French painter, active in the USA. He was educated at Fribourg, the Académie de St Pierre in Lyon and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he studied under Paul Delaroche. About 1840 he settled in New York and became a skilled exponent of the Hudson River school. Gignoux’s work is distinguished by its delicate touch and velvet colour, recalling that of François Boucher, yet he demonstrated an impressive resilience in applying his talents in a thoroughly American idiom. On the Upper Hudson (priv. col., see J. K. Howat: The Hudson River and its Painters, New York, 1971, p. 93, colour pl. 43), one of Gignoux’s finest paintings, shows the subtly modulated palette, diaphanous atmosphere, fine articulation of foreground forms and a cadence of light and shadow that characterize his style. Gignoux’s work was widely collected during his lifetime, and he achieved a reputation for his distinctive winter scenes; for example, ...


Heade [Heed], Martin Johnson  

Angela L. Miller

(b Lumberville, PA, Aug 11, 1819; d St Augustine, FL, Sept 4, 1904).

American painter. He began as a portrait painter, working in a primly selfconscious and laboured limner tradition; among his portraits are a small number of real distinction, such as the Portrait of a Man Holding a Cane (1851; priv. col.). As with Fitz Hugh Lane, whose career suggests points of contact with Heade, his work was meticulous and restrained in handling and without painterly effects. Only in the early 1860s did Heade turn to a subject well suited to his artistic personality: the salt marshes of Newburyport, RI (e.g. Sunrise on the Marshes, 1863; Flint, MI, Inst. F.A.) and Newburyport Meadows (c. 1876–81; New York, Met.). He worked with a limited range of pictorial elements—haystacks, clouds, sky, water and a flatly receding earth—to create a precise spatial structure within which to explore the fleeting light effects of a coastal environment. Heade did not rely on rapid oil sketches or drawings carrying colour notations of the sort done by his friend Frederic Church; yet he remained responsive to atmospheric variations, transforming a relatively prosaic landscape into a visually heightened field of subtly shifting perceptions. The eerie ‘luminist’ precision of his landscapes and his independence from conventional composition contribute to the unsettling impression his work makes, as well as to its appeal to modern sensibilities....


Hudson River school  

Franklin Kelly

American group of landscape painters active in the mid-19th century (see fig.). It was a loosely organized group, based in New York City. The name is somewhat misleading, particularly in its implied geographical limitation; the Hudson River Valley, from New York to the Catskill Mountains and beyond, was the symbolic and actual centre of the school but was not the only area visited and painted by these artists. Neither was this a school in the strictest sense of the word, because it was not centred in a specific academy or studio of an individual artist nor based on consistently espoused principles. The term was in general use from the late 1870s but seems not to have been employed during the 1850s and 1860s, the most important years of the school’s activities. It was initially used pejoratively by younger artists and critics who considered the earlier landscape painters hopelessly old-fashioned and insular in training and outlook. Nevertheless, the name gradually gained currency and is accepted by most historians....


Huntington, Daniel  

Wendy Greenhouse

(b New York, Oct 14, 1816; d New York, April 18, 1906).

American painter. Born into a distinguished New England family, he studied at Yale College and at Hamilton College, New York, where he met and was encouraged by the painter Charles Loring Elliott. In 1835 Huntington went to New York to study with Samuel F. B. Morse and by 1838 had his first pupil, Henry Peters Gray (1819–77). He was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design in 1839, an Academician in the following year and twice served as its President (1862–9 and 1877–91). Although based in New York, he exhibited at all the major national art institutions as well as at the Royal Academy, London. In 1847 he was a founder-member of the Century Club, over which he presided in 1879–95. He later helped found the Metropolitan Museum of Art and served as its Vice-President from 1871 until 1903.

Huntington early showed an interest in landscape painting, in which he was an associate and stylistic follower of the Hudson River school, but his academic training and religious convictions inspired an ambition to paint historical, particularly religious, subjects. ...


Johnson, David  

John I. H. Baur

(b New York, May 10, 1827; d Walden, NY, Jan 30, 1908).

American painter. He was a member of the Hudson River school and was virtually self-taught except for a few lessons from Jasper Francis Cropsey. He was primarily a landscape artist and a Luminist who rendered subtle effects of light and atmosphere with precise realism. His earliest works were copies of prints, for example West Point from Fort Putnam after Robert Havell jr (c. 1848; Cooperstown, Mus. NY State Hist. Assoc.). His first painting from nature (executed in the company of John William Casilear and John Frederick Kensett) was Haines Fall, Kauterskill Clove (1849; untraced, see Baur, fig.), and he began exhibiting the same year.

Johnson travelled widely in the north-east states of the USA, finding subjects in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Adirondacks, and elsewhere in New York State and in Virginia. He made one trip west to the Rocky Mountains in 1864–5, where he painted ...


Kensett, John F(rederick)  

John Driscoll

(b Cheshire, CT, March 22, 1816; d New York, Dec 14, 1872).

American painter and engraver. Born into a family of skilled engravers, he learnt the craft first from his father, Thomas Kensett (1786–1829), and then from his uncle Alfred Daggett (1799–1872). From this training he acquired the consummate skill that made him an exceptional draughtsman. The engraver’s attention to tonal modulation of the grey scale also contributed to Kensett’s extraordinary exploration of colour values and saturation in his paintings (see fig.).

In 1840, in the company of Asher B. Durand, John Casilear, and Thomas Rossiter (1818–71), Kensett went to Europe, where he remained for seven years, studying Old Master works and developing his skills as a painter in London, Paris, and Rome. On his return to America, he was immediately recognized as one of the most gifted painters of his time. He was soon elected an associate (1848) and then a full member (...


Moran, Thomas  

Phyllis Braff

(b Bolton, Lancs, Feb 12, 1837; d Santa Barbara, CA, Aug 26, 1926).

American painter, printmaker, and illustrator, of English birth. His brothers Edward (1829–1901), John (1831–1902), and Peter (1841–1914) were also artists. The family emigrated from England and settled in Philadelphia in 1844. At age 16 Moran was apprenticed to the wood-engraving firm Scattergood and Telfer, but he also began to produce watercolours that sold well. In an exchange arrangement with a book dealer, Moran acquired editions of important engravings, including Claude Lorrain’s Liber Veritatis and J. M. W. Turner’s Liber Studiorum. These served as formative influences for his career as a landscape painter, and contributed to his lifelong concern with pictorial structure and compositional devices. His study of oil painting was guided by his brother Edward, and by Edward’s acquaintance, the marine painter James Hamilton.

Moran’s interest in evocative natural settings led to a trip to Lake Superior in 1860 and to a series of paintings and prints featuring that region’s dramatic configurations of rocks and shoreline. In ...