Tag Archives: Hudson River School

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading