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The Hudson River School American Art 1820-1870 Donna M. Campbell, Washington State University Note: Unfortunately, this slide show does not work well in Firefox. Use Internet Explorer if you want to see all the pictures and notes. Background: pre-1825 Portraiture European influence

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the hudson river school

The Hudson River School

American Art 1820-1870

Donna M. Campbell, Washington State University

Note: Unfortunately, this slide show does not work well in Firefox. Use Internet Explorer if you want to see all the pictures and notes.

background pre 1825
Background: pre-1825
  • Portraiture
    • European influence
    • American “Naive” style
      • Flat design, spare painting (Ammi Phillips, 1788-1865)
  • Landscapes
    • Often appear as detail of portraiture: property seen through an open window indicates wealth
    • Washington Allston’s imaginary landscapes
european influence
European influence:
  • John Singleton Copley, Paul Revere, 1768
na ve style
Naïve style
  • Ammi Phillips, Portrait of Harriet Campbell, 1815
na ve style5
Naïve style
  • Edward Hicks, The Peaceable Kingdom (1834)
formal principles
Formal Principles
  • Not merely topographic but interpretive and poetic views of nature
  • Formal composition and attention to detail
  • Depictions of harmony in nature
subjects
Subjects
  • “Home in the Wilderness”
  • Juncture of civilization and wilderness: “Wilderness on the doorstep”
  • Incursions of civilization and progress
thomas cole daniel boone sitting at the door of his cabin on the great osage lake kentucky 1826
Thomas Cole, Daniel Boone Sitting at the Door of his Cabin on the Great Osage Lake, Kentucky, 1826
style
Style

Juxtaposition of elements

Use of panoramic views and small human figures to show immensity of nature and insignificance of human beings

Distant or elevated perspective for the viewer

Symbolic use of light and darkness

Contrast of diverse elements to show the unity of nature

thomas cole scene from last of the mohicans cora kneeling at the feet of tamenund 1827
Thomas Cole, Scene from Last of the Mohicans”: Cora Kneeling at the Feet of Tamenund (1827)
sublime beautiful picturesque
Sublime, Beautiful, Picturesque
  • Longinus, On the Sublime (AD 50)
    • Resulting from spirit--a spark from writer to reader--rather than technique
  • Edmund Burke, Philosophical Inquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757-1759)
  • Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment (1790)
    • Beauty is finite; the sublime is infinite
the beautiful
The Beautiful
  • Feminine qualities
  • Harmony
  • Sociability
  • Pastels
  • Sensual curves
burke on the sublime
Burke on the Sublime
  • Painful idea creates a sublime passion
  • Sublime concentrates the mind on a single facet of experience, producing a momentary suspension of rational activity
  • Harsh, antisocial, “masculine” representations exist in the realm of obscurity and brute force
the sublime
The Sublime
  • “Agreeable horror” results from portrayals of threatening objects
  • Greater aesthetic value if the pain producing the effect is imaginary rather than real
  • Feelings of awe at sublime nature the aim of certain kinds of art
  • Influenced Poe, the “Graveyard School” of poetry, and Gothic novels
picturesque
Picturesque
  • Intermediate category between the sublime and the beautiful
  • Allowed the painter to organize nature into what Pope called a “wild civility”
  • William Gilpin: illustrated tours in the 1790s established the conventions
characteristics of the picturesque
Characteristics of the Picturesque
  • Ruggedness and asymmetry
  • Irregularity of line
  • Contrasts of light and shadow
  • Landscape as a rundown Arcadia
    • Ruined towers, fractured rocks
    • Mossy banks and winding streams
    • Blighted or twisted trees
  • Appeal to nostalgia for preindustrial age
the hudson river school25
The Hudson River School
  • Thomas Cole (1801-1848)
  • Asher B. Durand (1796-1886)
  • Thomas Doughty (1793-1856)
  • John William Casilear
thomas cole 1801 1848
Thomas Cole (1801-1848)
  • Discovered in 1825 by
    • John Trumbull,
    • William Dunlap
    • Asher B. Durand
  • “The subject of art should

be pure and lofty . . .a moral,

religious, or poetic effect

must be produced on the mind.”

thomas cole
Thomas Cole
  • Lake withDead Trees (1825)
  • The painting that made Cole famous.
thomas cole a view of the mountain pass called the notch of the white mountains crawford notch 1839
Thomas Cole, A View of the Mountain Pass Called the Notch of the White Mountains (Crawford Notch), 1839
asher b durand 1796 1886
Asher B. Durand (1796-1886)
  • Began as an engraver; turned to painting
  • “Letters on Landscape Painting” (1855) in The Crayon
  • “Go first to nature to learn to paint landscape.”
asher b durand kindred spirits 1849
Asher B. Durand, Kindred Spirits (1849)
  • Thomas Cole and William Cullen Bryant
  • See Bryant’s “To Cole, the Painter, Departing for Europe.”
panoramists and luminists
Panoramists and Luminists
  • Second Generation of Hudson River school
  • Style of Hudson River painters applied to other regions:
    • Rocky Mountains
    • South America
practitioners
Practitioners
  • Jasper Cropsey (1823-1900)
  • Frederic E. Church (1826-1900)
  • John Frederick Kensett (1816-1873)
  • George Inness (1825-1894)
  • Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)
jasper cropsey 1823 1900
Jasper Cropsey (1823-1900)
  • Imitator of Cole’s allegorical works
  • Panorama of Pilgrim’s Progress:
    • Sixty large scenes unrolled to music and lectures.
    • Panorama was eight feet high by 850’ long.
    • Entire presentation took about two hours.
frederick edwin church
Frederick Edwin Church
  • Thomas Cole’s major pupil
  • Full-length “showpiece” landscapes
    • Falls of Niagara (1857)
    • Heart of the Andes (1859)
  • Landscape as symbol of divine
  • American continent as new Eden
  • Painted from nature, not notes and sketches
frederick edwin church falls of niagara 1857
Frederick Edwin Church, Falls of Niagara (1857)

Compare this painting with a photograph taken near the same spot in 2000.

george inness 1825 1894
George Inness (1825-1894)
  • The Lackawanna Valley (1855)
    • Landscape meditation on relation of man and nature
    • Harmonious integration of man’s progress and landscape
  • Unlike Cole: “A work of art does not appeal to the moral sense. Its aim is not to instruct and edify, but to awaken an emotion.”
albert bierstadt 1830 1902
Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)
  • One of first major artists to explore the West
  • The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak (1863)
  • A Storm in the Rocky Mountains (1866)
  • Yosemite Valley (1875)
john quidor 1801 1881
John Quidor (1801-1881)

Not of the Hudson River school

Created dreamlike, fanciful interpretations of literary scenes

Artisan-painter: uses bright, ornamental colors

note on sources
Note on Sources

Among the sources used:

E. P. Richardson, Painting in America

Ellwood C. Parry, Art of Thomas Cole

John K. Howatt, The Hudson River and Its Painters

General knowledge about Hudson River school

Burke, Kant, Longinus

Pictures are mostly from Sandra Hildreth’s site (used with permission)

web sites on the hudson river school
Web sites on the Hudson River School
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Brief discussion of the school from “I hear America Singing” at pbs.org
  • Index of Hudson River paintings (many images)
  • The Artfact site has a brief description of the school and links to many of the lesser-known painters.
  • More paintings and links from artlex.com
  • The Albany Institute has images of paintings by Cole, Durand, and others.
  • Hudson River School entry from Wikipedia.
  • A project by Kathleen Hogan (American Studies) at the University of Virginia discusses Alexis de Tocqueville and the Hudson River School.
  • The New-York Historical Society site features an essay on the school and a description of the museum’s current exhibition on New York paintings, which runs through February 2006.
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