Tag Archives: Hudson River School

Master, Mentor, Master:
Thomas Cole and Frederic Church


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church-catskillcreek-1847-washingtonctymusThe new exhibition of landscape masterpieces by Frederic Church and Thomas Cole is now open at the Thomas Cole Historic Site, featuring twenty artworks from 1844-1850, focusing on the early work of Church when he began studying with Cole in Catskill, New York.

The exhibition, on view through November 2, 2014, includes plein air studies by Church when he was an 18-year-old apprentice as well as large, highly finished and stunningly skillful paintings that were completed just a few years later. Compare Church’s work to Cole’s from the same time period as they covered the same territory together. Continue reading

Lecture: Thomas Cole, Frederic Church And Science


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unnamed(2)The Hudson River School artists worked at a time when great revolutions were sweeping through science. This Sunday January 12, at 2 pm at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, The husband and wife science team Johanna (biologist) and Robert (geologist) Titus will offer an in-depth look into the interactions of Thomas Cole and Frederic Church with the scientists of their time.

Highlights include the Titus’ discovery of the local mountain that Cole used as a model for the famous centerpiece of his series “The Course of Empire.” The Titus’ will sign copies of their new book, The Hudson Valley in the Ice Age, after the talk. Continue reading

Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision


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Nature_Cropsey_page_webThe Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown is presenting an exhibition showcasing over forty-five important 19th century landscape paintings by Hudson River School artists.  The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision, organized by the New-York Historical Society, will run through September 29.

The exhibition is part of a collaborative project with The Glimmerglass Festival, Hyde Hall, and Olana State Historic Site, the home of Frederic Church.  Each organization features programming related to the Hudson River School throughout the summer. Continue reading

Ossining Events, Exhibits Celebrate Bicentennial


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image006On April 2nd 1813, the Village of Sing Sing (now called Ossining) became the first incorporated municipality in Westchester County. To recall and honor that historic day, the Village of Ossining will be holding a series of commemorative activities from April through October of 2013.

The bicentennial celebration, kicks of with “Ossining in 3D,” a historical photo and map show that runs through April 29th and depicts 200 years of Ossining’s history including its numerous historically and architecturally significant buildings, structures and sites. Continue reading

The Immigrant Thomas Cole and NY State Tourism


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View of Fort Putnam (Thomas Cole)Thomas Cole (1801-1848) , English immigrant, is regarded as a father of the Hudson River School, the first national art expression of the American identity in the post-War of 1812 period. It was a time when we no longer had to look over our shoulder at what England was doing and could begin to think of ourselves as having a manifest destiny. Cole also was very much part of the birth of tourism which occurred in the Hudson Valley and points north and west. Continue reading

Call to Artists: Hudson River School Art Trail


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To celebrate the many talented artists who continue to be inspired by the landscapes along the Hudson River School Art Trail, the Thomas Cole Historic Site has issued a “call to artists” to submit a new postcard-sized artwork for an exhibition and sale entitled “Postcards from the Trail” that will take place on Sunday September 23, 2012.

A preview will benefit the Greene County Council on the Arts on the Saturday before. Artworks may depict any one of the 22 magnificent views that are now part of the Hudson River School Art Trail, a series of driving and hiking routes to the places that inspired the great landscape paintings of the 19th century. Hurry! The deadline for submissions is August 31st. For information about the Saturday preview, contact the GCCA at 518-943-3400.

Artists can get the details and entry instructions online.

Lecture on Thomas Cole’s ‘New Studio’ Sunday


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In 1974, an Italianate building that Thomas Cole had designed and used as his painting studio in the mid-19th century was demolished. It had fallen into disrepair and the art movement that Thomas Cole had founded, the Hudson River School, had fallen out of favor. Over the years, the site was overcome with trees and shrubs, and the exact location of the former building was lost.

The site is now part of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and the building is in the process of being revived. This Sunday, April 15 at 2 pm, the art history professor from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, Julie Levin Caro, will be at the Thomas Cole site to speak about this piece of history – the building that Cole designed as his “dream studio”.

The talk is the last event in the series of Sunday Salon lectures, which take place once per month from January through April at the home of Thomas Cole, where the Hudson River School began. Tickets are $8 per person, or $6 for members, and admission is first-come-first-served.

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Thomas Cole Celebrates 10 Years, Makes Plans


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Ten years ago the Thomas Cole National Historic Site opened its doors with no endowment, no government operating funds, and no paid staff. Thanks to members, volunteers, donors, scholars, trustees, staff, interns, advisors and fans the birthplace of the Hudson River School is still inspiring us today.

Over the next ten years Historic Site staff hope to see Thomas Cole’s “New Studio” rebuilt in the exact spot where it stood for 128 years – a building that he himself designed and the interior rooms of the 1815 “Main House” restored.

On Sundays at 2 pm once per month Thomas Cole State Historic Site offers a popular Sunday Salon series of lectures. Here are the first two:

January 15
The Hunt for Thomas Cole’s Lost, Last, Unfinished Series
In the late 1980s, a legendary New York art dealer acquired an oil study for one of five paintings in Cole’s monumental series, The Cross and the World. Learning that the series – still on Cole’s easel at the time of his death – had vanished from sight in the 1870s, the dealer sent Christine I. Oaklander out to hunt them down. Dr. Oaklander will discuss the history and iconography of Cole’s last, lost series and give us a “behind the scenes” glimpse of her quest.

February 12
Thomas Cole in Love
In 1825, young Thomas Cole stepped out of the Catskills autumn with a body of work so exceptional that it kicked America’s drowsy cultural ambitions into a new state of excitement. Join Kevin Sharp, Director of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, as he explores Cole’s use of Romantic imagery from English poets such as Byron and Coleridge to create dramatic works that stood in stark contrast to the gentle landscape images that had come before.

Thomas Cole Historic Site Community Day


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It has been ten years since the Thomas Cole National Historic Site opened its doors, and they have a great many milestones to celebrate, so they are opening their doors on Sunday, September 25, from 1-4 pm for a Community Day, featuring a new exhibition focusing on the past decade. Admission is free.

In the ten years since the 2001 opening, over 60,000 people have visited the historic site and attendance is now 400% higher than it was in the first year. Once near ruin, the house and grounds now provide an evocative environment where visitors can learn about the founder of the Hudson River School of art.

Hudson River School Hikes Offered


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Thomas Cole National Historic Site is offering a third season of guided hikes to places that inspired Thomas Cole and fellow artists of the Hudson River School. Hikers will see the views that appear in some of the most beloved landscape paintings of the 19th-century, and hear stories that bring their history to life. The hikes range from easy walks to moderately vigorous climbs. Each hike is limited to twelve people, so sign up soon to be sure to reserve your place. The next hike is Saturday June 18; all hikes depart from the Thomas Cole Historic Site at 9am.

Hikes designated as “Easy” are approximately two hours in length. Those designated as “Moderate” are closer to four hours. Each of the guided hikes includes a copy of the Hudson River School Art Trail Guidebook and a guided tour of the Thomas Cole Historic Site at the end of the hike. The total price per person: $16, or $12 for members.

2011 Hike Schedule

JUNE 18 Sunset Rock and the Catskill Mt House (moderate)

JULY 16 Kaaterskill Falls and Catskill Mt House (moderate)

AUGUST 13 Catskill Mt. House and North-South Lake (easy)

SEPTEMBER 10 Kaaterskill Falls and Catskill Mt House (moderate)

OCTOBER 15 Sunset Rock and Catskill Mt House (moderate)

More about the hikes is available online [pdf].

Illustrations: Thomas Cole, The Clove, Catskills, 1827 (New Britain Museum of American Art), and the same view today. Photo by Francis Driscoll.

Boscobel Exhibit: Contemporary Hudson Valley Art


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The Hudson River Valley is the birthplace of American Art. For more than 200 years artist have been inspired by its beauty—from Charles Willson Peale and Samuel F.B. Morse to Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School of landscape painting—artists painting the valley and living in the city where a century later Abstract Expressionism emerged. Before Hollywood, Fort Lee on the Palisades was a center of motion picture production, where painters like Thomas Hart Benton worked as grips and extras. Continue reading

New Exhibit: African-American Landscape PainterRobert Duncanson


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On May 1, 2011, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site opens Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freedman’s Son, the first exhibition featuring the work of the nineteenth-century African-American landscape painter Robert S. Duncanson in many years, and, the first exhibition of his work to appear on the east coast, even in his lifetime. The exhibition will bring the work of this Ohio artist to the home of Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School and major influence on Duncanson.

Robert S. Duncanson was the first American landscape painter of African descent to gain international renown and occupies a critical position in the history of art. Widely celebrated for his landscape paintings, Duncanson began his career in the family trades of house painting and carpentry, before teaching himself art by painting portraits, genre scenes, and still-lifes. His success is remarkable as a “free colored person” who descended from generations of mulatto tradesmen, to graduate from skilled trades and participate in the Anglo-American art community.

Duncanson’s turn to landscape as his subject was influenced by Thomas Cole in the late 1840s. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, then the largest and most prosperous city in the western United States, Duncanson became the cornerstone of the Ohio River Valley regional landscape painting school and, according to the Cincinnati Gazette declared that he “enjoyed the enviable reputation of being the best landscape painter in the West.”

Duncanson achieved his artistic success despite the oppressive restrictions that Anglo-American society placed on him as an African-American, a “free colored person.” His paintings earned him international attention with especially high esteem bestowed on him by the art press in Canada and England. Canadians acknowledged Duncanson’s seminal role as “one of the earliest of our professional cultivators of the fine arts.” And, the critics of the London Art Journal praised him as possessing “the skill of a master,” whose paintings “may compete with any of the modern British school.”

Duncanson adopted the style and metaphors of east coast landscape painting that depicted the “natural paradise” of the New World as a romantic symbol for the European settlers’ perceived covenant with God. But in so doing he also appropriated the art of landscape painting–both in subject and content–for African-American culture. In some of his paintings he subtly expressed the perspective of an African-American through his works.

A careful reading of his landscapes, reveals how Duncanson expressed his particular perspective. The grandson of a freedman, Duncanson’s artistic ambitions and the content of his paintings epitomize W.E.B. Du Bois’ statement that “the spiritual striving of the freedmen’s son is the travail of souls.”

Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freeman’s Son is curated by Joseph D. Ketner. Ketner is the Henry and Lois Foster Chair in Contemporary Art and the Distinguished Curator-in-Residence at Emerson College in Boston. He is the author of a definitive book about the artist, The Emergence of the African-American Artist: Robert S. Duncanson 1821-1872. The catalogue for this exhibition will contain an essay by Ketner including new information on the artist and color illustrations of many new paintings discovered over the past fifteen years.

“We are honored to have Joseph Ketner, the authority on this fascinating Hudson River School artist, curate our 8th annual exhibition,” said Elizabeth Jacks, Executive Director of the Thomas Cole Site. “The artist’s work, which can be found in the permanent collections of major museums across the country, stands alone in its beauty. What makes this exhibition even more powerful, however, is the fact that Duncanson achieved his success under the oppressive conditions of being a ‘free colored person’ in antebellum United States.”

Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freeman’s Son is on-view through October 30, 2011.

This exhibition is the 8th annual presentation of 19th Century landscape paintings at the Thomas Cole site, fostering a discussion of the influence of Thomas Cole on American culture through a generation of artists known as the Hudson River School. The Thomas Cole Historic Site is located at 218 Spring Street in Catskill, New York. For information call 518-943-7465 or visit www.thomascole.org.

Illustration: Robert S. Duncanson’s Times Temple, 1854. 34 x 59 inches, Oil on Canvas. Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Hudson River Viewshed Symposium Saturday


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The Olana Partnership will celebrate the Hudson Valley’s extraordinary natural and designed landscapes in a symposium on Saturday, April 16, 2011. Framing the Viewshed: The Transformative Power of Art and Landscape in the Hudson Valley will take place at Columbia-Greene Community College, just outside of Hudson, New York. The panel discussion will feature three leading experts in the fields of art history, conservation, and landscape design who will discuss the Hudson Valley’s unparalleled viewsheds and their cultural context.

Olana, now the Olana State Historic Site, was the home and creation of Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), one of the most significant artists of his day, and a leader of the Hudson River School, America’s first native school of painting. As a young artist, Church studied under Thomas Cole who lived just across the Hudson River. Church fell in love with the area and, when he became successful he bought a farm, which eventually became one of America’s most important designed landscapes.

Frederic Church designed Olana, planting trees, building a lake, and orchestrating the paths and carriage drives that lead up to the iconic Persian-inspired castle at the top of the hill. From this vantage point, with Church’s 250-acre Picturesque style landscape in the foreground, and the larger, borrowed landscape stretching to the horizon, today’s visitor can enjoy a vista largely unchanged in the 110 years since Frederic Church died.

This vast area comprises the Olana viewshed. (Fittingly, Columbia-Greene College, site of the symposium, is itself part of this viewshed.) “Olana represents a rare American convergence of art, conservation and landscape themes,” said Mark Prezorski, trustee of The Olana Partnership. “It makes perfect sense for the Olana Viewshed to serve as a backdrop for a broader Hudson Valley discussion.”

The panel discussion will be moderated by David Schuyler, the biographer of Calvert Vaux, who assisted Church with the design of the house. Art historian Linda S Ferber will speak on the four Hudsons of Wallace Bruce, the author of a 1901 travel guide: the Hudsons of Beauty, History, Literature and Commerce. Vassar Professor Emeritus Harvey K. Flad will discuss the “Art of Protecting Scenic Views: Nineteenth-century Artists and the Preservation of Modern-day Landscapes.” Landscape architect Laurie Olin, whose designs for public and private landscapes have won him international acclaim, will speak on the use of contemporary design in historic settings.

The concept of viewsheds is one in which many organizations are involved, several of which are participating in this symposium by either helping sponsor the conference or having representatives on hand to talk about their work. Sara Griffen, President of The Olana Partnership, said, “Partnerships are key to understanding and preserving views. The Olana Partnership is pleased that the Hudson Valley Greenway and National Heritage Area are sponsors of the symposium, and that representatives of Scenic Hudson, the Open Space Institute, and the Columbia Land Conservancy will be available to describe their respective roles in the preservation of views. The Olana Partnership also acknowledges the critical work of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as well as the Estuary program of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of State, and the support of our partners at the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Cultural Landscape Foundation.” WDST is the media sponsor of the symposium.

Citing some reasons why his organization with its partners have preserved more than 2,000 acres in the Olana viewshed, Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “These vistas are good for the soul and the economy. The land that inspired Frederic Church’s art today lifts the spirits of all who see it. Keeping this treasured landscape intact helps Olana bring $8 million to the local economy each year and contributes strongly to Columbia County’s tourism industry, which generates $105 million in spending annually and is responsible for 1,500 jobs. I applaud Olana for holding this symposium to have more people appreciate and support preserving the valley’s natural beauty.”

The symposium will be held from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, at Columbia-Greene Community College, 4400 Route 23, Hudson, NY. Registration starts at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 each for members of The Olana Partnership, $50 for non-members. Continuing Education Credits, LACES 3.5 Non-HSW (NYS) will be available for registered landscape architects. From 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon, Olana is offering tours of the Bell Tower (which is not usually open to the public) to symposium participants. The tour is free to members, $40 for non-members; space is limited so guests must pre-register. For additional information or to reserve tickets, go to the Olana website, www.olana.org or call (518) 828-1872, extension 103.

Another feature of this symposium is a collection of statements on the subject of viewsheds that will be provided to attendees. In addition, these statements are posted on Olana’s website, along with an opportunity for the public, through Facebook, to create their own statements about views.

Following the symposium, participants can enjoy the sunset by attending a Viewshed Benefit Party with wine and hors d’oeuvres, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Oak Hill in Hudson, NY (town of Livingston). Oak Hill was built around 1793 by John Livingston (1750-1822), son of Robert Livingston, the third Lord of Livingston Manor. Grandly sited on a Hudson River bluff, it commands intimate river and mountain views, as well as a singular view up toward Frederic Church’s house and painting studio. Oak Hill is one of more than a dozen family homes built along the Hudson River and has remained in the Livingston family since it was built. Sponsor tickets for the benefit are $250, members $90 and non-members $100 and are available by calling (518) 828-1872, extension 103 as well as via Brown Paper Tickets.

Photo: Peter Aaron/Esto.

Major Hudson River School Exhibition Opens


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Questroyal Fine Art in New York City has announced the beginning of its eleventh annual Hudson River School exhibition, An Untamed Nation. The show, which opened to the public March 10, features examples by America’s most beloved landscape artists of the nineteenth-century. Highlights include a sublime landscape by the 19th-century forefather of American art, Thomas Doughty, a marine masterpiece by Luminist painter Francis Augustus Silva, a vibrant Hudson River scene by Jasper Francis Cropsey, and a dramatic composition by George Inness.

Questroyal owner Louis M. Salerno said of the paintings: “After months of searching, I am happy to say that I have gathered a unique and high-quality group of paintings for this year’s exhibition. I have specialized in finding and offering Hudson River School works for over two decades now and have never displayed such a distinguished collection of nineteenth-century art as what we have for this year’s show. We have created one of our strongest Hudson River School catalogues to accompany the exhibition with thirty-two illustrations, but plan to display well over seventy-five works.”

An Untamed Nation will be on display until April2,2011. Questroyal is willing to offer a complimentary exhibition catalogue to any interested parties. Please contact the gallery via email (gallery@questroyalfineart.com) or phone (212-744-3586) to request your copy.

Admission to the exhibition is free of charge. The gallery is located at 903 Park Avenue (at 79th Street), Suite 3A & B and is open Monday–Friday from 10–6 PM and Saturday, 10–5PM.

Visit their website for more information.

Hudson River School Focus of Major Travelling Exhibit


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Forty-five paintings from the collection of the New-York Historical Society will tour the United States in 2011 and 2012 in the major traveling exhibition Nature and the American Vision: Masterpieces of the Hudson River School. Though very seldom loaned, these iconic works of 19th-century landscape painting will now be circulated to four museums throughout the country as part of the Historical Society’s traveling exhibitions program Sharing a National Treasure.

Nature and the American Vision
will allow audiences to enjoy and study superb examples of the Historical Society’s collection of Hudson River School paintings while the galleries of the N-YHS are closed for a transformative $65 million renovation project.

The Historical Society’s rich holdings of American art date back to the second half of the 19th century, when the museum acquired, through generous donation, the extensive painting collections formed by pioneering New York art patron Luman Reed (1787-1836). By 1944, the Society was also home to the extraordinary collection of Hudson River School art amassed by Robert Leighton Stuart (1806-1882), another of New York’s prominent 19th-century art patrons. Works once belonging to these pioneering American collectors form the core of the traveling exhibition.

“Our mission for the Sharing a National Treasure program is to ensure that audiences throughout the United States have access to the great artworks and priceless artifacts of the New-York Historical Society, New York City’s first museum and one of the nation’s oldest collecting institutions,” stated Louise Mirrer, President and CEO. “Nowhere is this mission more vital than in the traveling exhibition Nature and the American Vision. This tour keeps in public view some of the most important works of Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Albert Bierstadt, John Kensett, Jasper Cropsey, Asher B. Durand, George Inness and many others: the first artists to have created a consciously American tradition of painting.”

The Hudson River School emerged during the second quarter of the 19th century in New York City. There, a loosely knit group of artists and writers forged the first self-consciously American landscape vision and literary voice. That American vision—still widely influential today—was grounded in a view of the natural world as a source of spiritual renewal and an expression of national identity. This vision was first expressed through the magnificent scenery of the Hudson River Valley region, including the Catskills, which was accessible to writers, artists and sightseers via traffic on the great river that gave the school its name.

The exhibition tells this story in four thematic sections. Within these broad groupings, the paintings show how American artists embodied powerful ideas about nature, culture and history—including the belief that a special providence was manifest to Americans in the continent’s sublime landscape.

The American Grand Tour
features paintings of the Catskill, Adirondack, and White Mountain regions celebrated for their scenic beauty and historic sites, as well as views of Lake George, Niagara Falls and the New England countryside. These were the destinations that most powerfully attracted both artists and travelers. The American Grand Tour also includes paintings that memorialize the Hudson River itself as the gateway to the touring destinations and primary sketching grounds for American landscape painters.

American Artists A-Field
includes works by Hudson River School artists who after 1850 sought inspiration further from home. The paintings of Frederic Edwin Church, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Hill and Martin Johnson Heade show how these globe-trotting painters embraced the role of artist-explorer and thrilled audiences with images of the landscape wonders of such far-flung places as the American frontier, Yosemite Valley and South America.

Dreams of Arcadia: Americans in Italy features wonderful paintings by Cole, Cropsey, Sanford R. Gifford, and others celebrating Italy as the center of the Old World and the principal destination for Americans on the European Grand Tour. Viewed as the storehouse of Western culture, Italy was a living laboratory of the past, with its cities, galleries, and countryside offering a survey of the artistic heritage from antiquity, as well as a striking contrast to the wilderness vistas of North America portrayed by these same artists.

In the final section of the exhibition, Grand Landscape Narratives, all of these ideas converge in Thomas Cole’s five-painting series The Course of Empire (c. 1834-36), imagining the rise of a great civilization from an unspoiled landscape, and the ultimate decay of that civilization into ruins scattered in the same wilderness. These celebrated paintings explore the tension between Americans’ deep veneration of the wilderness and their equally ardent celebration of progress, recapitulating the larger story told in Nature and the American Vision.

Nature and the American Vision: Masterpieces of the Hudson River School will travel to The Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX (February 26- June 19, 2011); the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA (July 30 – November 6, 2011); the Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC (November 17, 2011 – April 1, 2012); and the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR (May – August, 2012). The paintings will then return to their renovated home.

The ideas and beliefs explored in the exhibition are also investigated in an award-winning 224-page catalogue by Linda S. Ferber: The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision, published by Skira Rizzoli Publications, Inc. Featuring 150 full-color illustrations of works from the acclaimed collection of the New-York Historical Society, the catalogue places the splendid paintings in the traveling exhibition into a broad historical and cultural context. Dr. Ferber received the 2010 Henry Allen Moe Prize for Catalogues of Distinction in the Arts from the New York State Historical Association for the volume.

The Masculinity of Antebellum Landscape Painters


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As one who hobnobbed in elite cultural circles but also worked with his hands and roughed it in the woods and mountains, was the antebellum American landscape painter to be a gentleman or an undomesticated wild man, a James Fenimore Cooper or a Davy Crockett? Join Dr. Sarah Burns, Ruth N. Halls Professor of Fine Arts at Indiana University, as she examines the ways in which Hudson River School painters attempted to reckon with the problematic aura of femininity that clung to the image of the artist at that time. The lecture, “Outdoor Men: Manliness, Masculinity, and the Antebellum Landscape Painter,” will be held on Sunday October 10 is at 2pm at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill. Admission is $7 per person, or $5 for members, and is first-come-first-served.

Illustration: Asher Durand, Kindred Spirits (detail), 1849. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Seeing the Hudson: An Exhibition of Photographs and Paintings


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As part of the 400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson’s sail of discovery, the Alan Klotz Gallery, (511 West 25th Street, NYC) is presenting Seeing the Hudson, a major exhibition of paintings and photographs, which show the river over a period of more than 200 years, from its source in the Adirondacks, to its mouth, 315 miles away in Upper New York Bay. The exhibition will take place September 17th – October 31st, 2009 with an opening reception on Thursday, September 17, from 6 to 8 pm.

The show begins with work by the 19th century painters of the Hudson River School, arguably the first American art movement, and continues through more contemporary painting and photographs. The exhibition demonstrates the variety of faces that the River presents and the selected works reflect the vision of the individual artists.

In general, 19th century Hudson River School painters saw the River as an almost holy, pristine, primeval landscape, where settlers (if present at all) lived in harmony with an all powerful “Nature“. Photographers (partially due to the nature of their medium) were more interested in the real than the ideal. To them, the profound effect of the “hand of man“ on the environment is what gave proof of man’s dominion over Nature, and was itself a source of pride for a developing nation. Of course, in more recent times, man’s impact on the environment has engendered a more negative judgment. Irony and severe criticism have become part of the view as a spur to environmental action by those who love the River and want to protect, defend, and restore it. All these motivations find form in the exhibition.

Photo: Joseph Antonio Hekking’s (1830 – 1903) Hudson River Valley

150 Thomas Cole Images Now Online


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The Thomas Cole Historic Site is substantially increasing its online presence with the launch of a new interactive website where visitors can see Thomas Cole’s paintings in a new way, enabling a greatly enhanced understanding of the artist and his work.

The most ambitious feature of the new website is the learning portal. Five years in the making, it offers 150 of Thomas Cole’s best-known artworks all in one place. Written by some of the top scholars in the field of American art, it gives you the experience of seeing Cole’s artwork with a team of experts by your side.

High-resolution digital technology reveals details that are not evident in printed reproductions, and the visitor can zoom in closer to the painted surface than would be permissible in a museum. The database of images will continue to grow, eventually becoming as complete a resource as possible for Cole’s artistic output.

Photo: Autumn in the Catskills by Thomas Cole. Oil on wood, 1827.

Thomas Cole Historic Site Gets $1 Million Bequest


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The Thomas Cole Historic Site has announced that it has received a bequest of $1,000,000 from the estate of Raymond Beecher (1917–2008), a guiding light in the preservation of the Thomas Cole Site as well as countless other historic properties in the area. The newly established Raymond and Catharine Beecher Memorial Fund will be used for the maintenance of the buildings and grounds of Cedar Grove, the 19th- century home of Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole.

The bequest is restricted to funding the maintenance of the building and grounds of the Thomas Cole Historic Site, and only a portion of the interest may be used each year so that the principal will endure. Were it not for Raymond Beecher, who passed away in October at the age of 91, there might not be a Cedar Grove today. When the property was up for sale and possibly headed for demolition, Beecher put up his own money to buy the property and begin the restoration process. According to Thomas Cole Historic Site Executive Director Elizabeth Jacks, “It might not have happened without him. He led the charge. So we are delighted that his legacy lives on in a way that helps maintain the site he loved so much.”

Raymond Beecher was a soldier, educator, historian, writer, philanthropist, and public servant. He was the Chairman of the Greene County Historical Society and the Greene County Historian for many years. He was a leader in the establishment of the Vedder Library – a collection of important pieces of Greene County history. Beecher was a World War II veteran serving in both Europe and the Pacific. He wrote several books and for many years wrote a weekly column in local newspapers. He was declared a “Greene County Treasure” by the County Legislature in 2007.

Cedar Grove is the historic name for the Thomas Cole Historic Site, a non-profit organization that preserves and interprets the site where the artist Thomas Cole lived, worked, was married, and where he died at the age of 47. Today the site consists of the Federal style brick home (c. 1815) in which Thomas Cole resided with his family, as well as the artist’s original studio building, on five landscaped acres with a magnificent view of the Catskill Mountains.

Photo: Raymond Beecher in the grounds of his beloved Cedar Grove. Photo Richard Philp.