Morris Museum of Art

Augusta, Georgia



Art and Nature: The Hudson River School

April 3 - June 4, 2000


Art and Nature: The Hudson River School will be on exhibit at the Morris Museum of Art from Monday, April 3, through Sunday, June 4, 2000. Featuring 27 paintings by such noted artists as Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand,Frederic Edwin Church, Jasper F. Cropsey, Sanford Robinson Gifford, John Frederick Kensett,David Johnson John William Casilear, and George Inness, the exhibition was organized from the collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art in New York. (left: Asher B. Durand, Cathedral Ledge, oil on canvas, Courtesy of Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany, N.Y., and Smith Kramer Fine Art Services)

The exhibition focuses on the changing meaning of Hudson River School paintings over time. Beginning with Thomas Cole in 1825 and ending by the late 1870s, the Hudson River School was known for its dramatic depictions of nature and subjects ranging from sublime views of the wilderness to pastoral scenes and allegorical pictures with moral messages. At the height of the movement in the 1840s, these paintings were meant to celebrate the presence of God in nature. In keeping with the tenets of Romanticism, these artists saw the natural American environment as a source for divine expressions. By the end of the nineteenth century, interest in the Hudson River School declined, and the new paintings were considered old-fashioned. However, after World War I, there was a renewal of interest, sparked by patriotism, and these American landscapes were viewed as evidence of the simplicity and independence of life in the United States, symbolizing American strength and individualism. (right: Thomas Cole, Gardens of the Van Renesselaer Manor House, oil on canvas, Courtesy of Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany, N.Y., and Smith Kramer Fine Art Services)

Following World War II, as America became the center for modern and abstract art, the nineteenth century landscapes again lost their appeal. The 1960s and 1970s brought renewed appreciation for these Hudson River School paintings as contemporary artists and historians, concerned for America's natural environment, saw the paintings as reminders of a lost pre-industrial paradise. Environmentalists used the Hudson River landscapes to inspire people to embrace the "back to the earth" movement. Works by the Hudson River School artists today are appreciated on many levels for their meanings related to American art, history, and culture. (right: Sanford Gifford, Mt. Merino and the City of Hudson in Autumn, oil on canvas, Courtesy of Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany, N.Y., and Smith Kramer Fine Art Services)

Located in the heart of the Hudson River Valley of New York State, the Albany Institute of History and Art has been collecting materials related to the Hudson River School artists for well over one hundred years. Founded in 1791, the museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the art, history, and culture of the upper Hudson River Valley from the seventeenth century to the present. Its collection of Hudson River School landscapes represents all of the major artists associated with the movement recognized as the first school of American painting.

On Thursday, April 13, the Morris Museum will present a special program featuring a slide lecture by Dr. Janice Simon, associate professor of American art at the Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia. Her slide lecture, entitled "The Hudson River School," will begin at 6:15 p.m. Preceding that event will be a free reception for museum members, beginning at 5:00 p.m. The reception will be open to non-members beginning at 6:00 p.m. at a cost of $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for students.

Dr. Simon holds Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in the history of art from the University of Michigan and has written extensively on topics in American art, particularly in the area of nineteenth-century images of nature. Since 1991 she has served as advisory editor of American Periodicals: A Journal of History, Criticism and Bibliography and on advisory boards for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Getty Grant Program for painting conservation.

This exhibition was organized by the Albany Institute of History and Art in Albany, New York. Smith Kramer, Inc., a fine art service company located in Kansas City, Missouri, is organizing the exhibition and traveling schedule. In addition to the Morris Museum of Art, Art and Nature: The Hudson River School will be displayed at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, Michigan, January 9-March 12, 2000 (see Art and Nature: The Hudson River School (1/20/00)); J. B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, June 25-August 27, 2000; Morris Museum, Morristown, New Jersey, September 17-November 19, 2000; and the Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, December 10, 2000-February 25, 2001.

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Read more in Resource Library Magazine about the Morris Museum of Art.

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

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

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