Orlando Museum of Art

Orlando, FL




Art and Nature: The Hudson River School, Paintings from the Albany Institute of History & Art


The Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) exhibits Art and Nature: The Hudson River School, Paintings from the Albany Institute of History & Art July 25 - September 26, 1999. The collection includes paintings by a group of artists from the Hudson River Valley who first established the tradition of American landscape painting. Known as the Hudson River School, the paintings emerged in the 1820s and have been instrumental in shaping Americans' views towards art and nature.

Rather than nature serving as a back drop for history paintings or portraits, the artists from the Hudson River School illustrated the changing power and beauty of the American wilderness. This was evident through their dramatic depictions of nature and subjects ranging from sublime views of wilderness to pastoral scenes and pictures with moral messages. At the height of the movement, paintings were meant to celebrate the presence of God in nature. The artists saw the natural American environment as a source for divine expression and inspiration.

Organized by the Albany Institute of History and Art, this 26 painting collection includes works from renowned artists such as: Thomas Cole, Asher Durand, Frederic Edwin Church, Jasper Cropsey, James McDougal Hart,William Hart, John Frederick Kensett, Homer Dodge Martin, David Johnson and George Inness. The artists were chosen for the exhibition to demonstrate how the meaning and importance of these works have changed over time.

Extremely popular in the mid to late 1800s, interest in the paintings began to decline by the turn of the century. This changed by the end of World War I when the paintings were viewed as evidence of the simplicity and independence of life in America. They symbolized American strength, individualism and patriotism. By the 1960s and 1970s appreciation grew as contemporary artists and historians concerned for America's natural environment saw the paintings as icons of a lost pre-industrial paradise. Environmentalists used the Hudson River School landscapes to inspire people to embrace the "back to earth" movement. Today, works by the Hudson River school artists are appreciated on many levels for their insights and meanings related to American art, history and culture.

Images from top to bottom: Asher B. Durand (1796-1886), An Old Man's Reminiscences, 1845, oil on canvas, 51 x 70 1/2 inches (framed), Collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art; Homer Dodge Martin (1836-1897), Storm King on the Hudson, 1862, oil on canvas, 29 1/8 x 45 1/8 inches (framed), Collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art, Gift of the Estate of Anna Vandenburg; Jasper F. Cropsey (1823-1900), Dawn of Morning, Lake George, 1868, oil on canvas, 30 x 42 3/4 inches (framed), Collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art


Read more about the Orlando Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine

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

rev. 10/18/10

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