Hudson River School (02:10)
The landscape painters of the Hudson River School shaped the history of American art. Artist Thomas Cole and engraver Asher Durand founded an artistic movement near the Hudson River Valley based on fine art, nature, and spirituality. The second generation introduced a new style focused on light known as Luminism.
Examples of Luminism can be seen in the works of Washington Allston, Robert Salmon, and Fitz Henry Lane. Luminism focuses on how light and atmosphere affect a landscape. Many Luminism painters believed that nature was a direct manifestation of God's greatness.
Fitz Henry Lane (03:55)
Luminism has no signs of brush marks or impressionism. Luminist art collector Maxim Karolik called it "a realism with a poetic touch." Lane's work, which focuses on emptiness and vast landscapes, is known as the best example of the principle.
Frederic Church (05:08)
During Luminism's rise, a wider variety of pigments and hues were readily available to artists. Frederic Church used distinctive colors in his sunset paintings. His use of color showed his views and feelings about America's future as nation as it headed toward the Civil War.
Martin Johnson Heade (03:06)
Martin Johnson Heade often used grays in his paintings, which gave them an oddly surrealist quality. He painted a series all featuring thunderstorms during the Civil War. His work showed his understanding of ecological balances in nature.
Jasper Cropsey (01:34)
Jasper Cropsey studied under Cole but became more of a Luminist painter over his career. His "Autumn - On the Hudson" showed his use of light and portrayal of the heavens.
Sanford Gifford (06:20)
Sanford Gifford grew up in the Catskill region of New York, where Cole eventually made his home. Though they never met, they were both awed the distinctly American landscape. He distinguished himself as a Luminist painter with “A Gorge in the Mountains (Kauterskill Clove)," which he did after returning home from the Civil War.
John Kensett (06:30)
John Kensett was one of the best-known Hudson River School painters during his time. For three years, he traveled the Catskills during the summer and created Luminist paintings, including "Mount Washington from the Conway Valley" and "Lake George."
George Inness (05:16)
George Inness had the greatest transformation through his career of any of the Hudson River School painters. He worked showed characteristics of the French Barbizon painters, who he visited early in his career. His work became more progressive and he eliminated all needless details in favor of geometric forms.
Worthington Whittredge (03:49)
Worthington Whittredge went on a sketching trip through Europe with German artist Albert Bierstadt, which resulted in his 1858 work "The Wetterhorn." He was the Hudson River School painter to spend the most time in Europe and traveled extensively. He used what he learned in Europe to paint the American west.
Notable Second Generation Painters (05:51)
Samuel Colman's "Storm King on the Hudson" captured the changing society of late 19th America. David Johnson's "Lake Mohonk" showed his skill as a Luminist. John Casilear, William Hart, Alfred Bricher, and William Trost Richards were other well-known painters from the period.
End of Hudson River School (03:40)
By the 1890s, the Hudson River School was seen as outdated. It was replaced with the more somber and thought-provoking style of Barbizon and impressionism. The school's ideas about American nature, nationalism, and culture remained.
Credits: Cultivating A Tradition (01:08)
Credits: Cultivating A Tradition
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