Nevada Museum of Art

Reno, NV



All that is Glorious: Paintings from the Hudson River School


When artist Thomas Cole journeyed up the Hudson River in the summer of 1825, the paintings inspired by that trip made his reputation. He settled at Catskill on the Hudson and became a model for other American landscape painters, thus launching the Hudson River School and its romantic, idealized vision of the American landscape. From February 11 through June 25, 2000, the Nevada Museum of Art (NMA) will present "All that is Glorious: Paintings from the Hudson River School," an exhibit of over 60 paintings dating from 1840 to 1880 which highlight three generations of Hudson River School painters. Highly romanticized, the paintings each demonstrate the "artist's eye view" depicting America as a vast landscape filled with the raw promise of youth and signifying the presence of "God on Earth." Scenes captured on the canvases include the Hudson River Valley, the Adirondack, Catskill, Niagara Falls, and several other breathtaking views as seen through the eyes of these masters. The exhibition is organized by the NMA and Westmoreland Museum of American Art. (right: Thomas Cole, Sunset on the Arno, 1837, oil on canvas, 32 x 51 1/4 inches, Private Collection)

The Hudson River School of painting developed during the Romantic era, a period in cultural history when artists explored nature for its poetic qualities. The Hudson River painters were motivated by the belief that "all landscapes, whatever their features, have a distinct individuality and express a sentiment of their own." They invested nature with religious and therapeutic values, equating it with moral authority. The resulting landscapes were alternately intimate and sweeping: meditative, hallowed woodland interiors -"God's first temples"- or majestic panoramas that evoked basic notions about the inexhaustible nature of the continent. These traditions were founded on the spiritual ideals of Thomas Cole, an artist who upheld the idea of "God in Nature" and warned against rampant destruction of the wilderness. (left: Asher B. Durand, Woodland Interior, oil on canvas, 22.5 x 16.5 inches, Private Collection)

Residing in New York City, Cole and his artist colleagues traveled together along the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains to sketch on-site. For nearly a century, these images defined the national identity and established a model for viewing nature.

The vast majority of artists who painted Western landscapes, from Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Hill to William Keith, not only came from the East, but also studied with the Hudson River School painters. The changing interests of these artists and their differing approaches to nature had an on-going effect on the ways in which the West was depicted and understood by painters and also by writers. This occurred through artists moving back and forth from New York to California and also from the popularity of Hudson River School paintings and prints.

Though the following generation of Hudson River artists departed from Cole's philosophies emphasis and depicted scenery beyond the Hudson River Valley, most of them lived and worked in New York City and belonged to the same social and cultural milieu. They all painted nature in different seasons and weather conditions and, as the country expanded westward, these artists sought dramatic subject matter in various parts of the United States and beyond.

"All that is Glorious: Paintings from the Hudson River School" celebrates the rich heritage of landscape painting in the United States. This exhibition represents the third stage of an exhibition program developed by the NMA that focuses on the visual articulation of the environment. The aim of the exhibition is to present one of the frameworks within which artists have conceived the landscape of the West.

The exhibition features over 60 paintings highlighting three generations of Hudson River School painters. Drawn from an anonymous private East Coast collection, the paintings date from 1840 through 1880. In selecting the works for the exhibition, the NMA focused on representing the widest-possible range of Hudson River School artists while emphasizing the most important masters. The exhibit includes works by such masters as Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, John Frederick Kensett , Asher B. Durand as well as paintings by Thomas Doughty, Robert Scott Duncanson, Herny Ary, Norton Bush, Julie Beers, Henry Inman, Sanford Robinson Gifford, John William Casilear,Jervis McEntee, Laura Woodward, Homer Dodge Martin, and Worthington Whittredge.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 144 page, full color catalogue titled "All that is Glorious around us: Paintings from the Hudson River School." Written by John Driscoll, the book surveys the ideas, events, and figures of the Hudson River School movement and explores the diversity of nineteenth-century Romantic American Landscape painting. Hard cover copies are available in the NMA Museum Store.

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For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 12/27/10

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