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View The Hudson River School of Art Abound Throughout New York State

New York State has a long and rich history of intertwining art and heritage. With renowned museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the New-York Historical Society, New York City is considered by many to be the cultural capital of the world. Lesser known is the fact that Upstate New York and Long Island boast artists’ homes and studios landscapes that inspired the art, and well-established, high quality museums. Tourist attractions like Olana State Historic Site, Cedar Grove – The Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Niagara Falls, the Hudson River, Inspiration Point at Letchworth State Park, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, and Albany Institute of History and Art allow travelers to experience the rich history, heritage and beauty that New York has to offer.

The Hudson River, one of the great American rivers that shaped our nation’s history and development, also inspired a great school of landscape painters, called the Hudson River School. Nineteenth Century artists such as Thomas Cole (1801-1848), Asher Durand (1796-1886), and Frederic Church (1826-1900) formed this first truly American school of art. The era of the Hudson River School was a time of powerful nationalism in the United States. The dramatic and uniquely American landscapes by Thomas Cole and his followers prompted positive responses from the American public. For many Americans there was a great sense of pride and hope as they discovered these paintings, seeing in them the spirit of the nation. Exhibitions of Hudson River School landscapes drew large audiences and nature-inspired literature became popular. Eventually, the public desired to see the nature depicted so dramatically in the paintings and books – many 19th Century tourists traveled to the Hudson Valley to have a wilderness experience. Improvements in steamboats, the railroad and coach lines also aided in this new tourism phenomena.

While New York City, the Hudson River Valley and the Catskills have a concentration of Hudson River School art collections, artists homes and studios, and landscapes; the Hudson River School art heritage is prevalent in many places around the State.

New York City Region

Brooklyn Museum of Art - Hudson River school paintings are integrated into the newly installed American Painting and Sculpture galleries at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, called American Identities: A New Look. This is a thematic presentation of daily American life as reflected through works of art, featuring nearly 200 paintings, sculptures and works on paper, and includes artists Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt. These works are complemented by more than 125 related holdings representing the depth and quality of the Museum’s Decorative Arts collection. 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, 11238-6052. www.brooklynmuseum.org; 718/638-5000

Metropolitan Museum of Art - The museum’s collections span the history of world art, and include hundreds of world-famous masterpieces. 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St, Manhattan, 10028. www.metmuseum.org; 212/535-7710

New York Historical Society - The New York Historical Society houses an important Hudson River School collection, including works by most of the major artists, such as Thomas Cole, Asher B.Durand and Jasper Cropsey. A highlight of the collection is Cole's five-part painting cycle The Course of Empire. 5 West 76th St, 10024. www.nyhistory.org;
212/873-3400

Hudson Valley Region

Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center - The Center displays more than 40 works of art by Hudson River School painters at any one time. Permanent collection includes paintings by Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, and Asher B. Durand. Vassar College, 124 Raymond Ave, Poughkeepsie, 12604-0703. www.vassun.vassar.edu/~fllac/; 845/437-5237

Newington-Cropsey Foundation - A foundation dedicated to preserving, studying, and educating the public about Jasper Cropsey, a leading Hudson River School painter, this facility includes a gallery, Cropsey’s home, a cultural studies center, and an art school. The Gallery and Homestead are open by appointment. Tours are provided. 25 Cropsey Lane, Hastings-on-Hudson, 10706. www.newingtoncropsey.com; 914/478-7990

Olana State Historic Site - Olana is the meticulously created 19th century estate of artist Frederic Edwin Church, a leading member of the Hudson River School. Olana exhibits a significant collection of Church paintings as well as works by fellow 19th century artists and a major collection of Old World Masters within the historic home and artist’s studio. The original 250-acre park created by the artist caps the site. Special programs as well as tours of home and landscape make the site available to visitors.

Several of the paintings displayed in the house allow the visitor to see vistas painted from site locations by Church and other 19th century artists and then walk the grounds to view the same vistas as they appear today, including Catskill Mountains from the Home of the Artist, 1871 and Winter View from Olana, 1869. 5720 Rte 9G, Hudson, 12554. www.nysparks.state.ny.us/hist/; www.olana.org/; 518/828-0135

The Catskills Region
The Thomas Cole National Historic Site is the 1815 Federal style home and studio of Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School of landscape painting. The home is located on 3.4 acres of land, and features period furnishings and art galleries. 218 Spring St, Catskill, 12414. www.thomascole.org; 518/943-7465

Capital-Saratoga Region
Albany Institute of History and Art - The Albany Institute of History and Art offers a unique museum experience that celebrates five centuries of Upper Hudson Valley history, art and culture. The Albany Institute has two galleries devoted to the Hudson River School. 125 Washington Ave, Albany, 12210. www.albanyinstitute.org; 518/463-4478

Central-Leatherstocking Region
Fenimore Art Museum - The Fenimore Art Museum's Hudson River School exhibition is a collection of paintings by masters of the Hudson River School. Paintings include works by Thomas Cole, the first major American landscape painter, and Asher B. Durand. Lake Rd, Cooperstown, 13326. www.fenimoreartmusuem.org; 607/547-1400, 888/547-1450

Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute - A highlight of this collection is Thomas Cole's allegorical series, The Voyage of Life, 1839-40. It also features landscapes by Asher B. Durand, Sanford Gifford, Frederic Edwin Church, David Johnson, Alexander Wyant, Henry Inman, Worthington Whittredge, Thomas Moran, and others. 310 Genesee St, Utica, 13502. www.mwpi.edu; 315/797-0000

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

Hudson River School painters living in communities across New York State often painted their local landscapes. In addition to the museums, artists homes and studios showcasing the founders and other well-known members of the Hudson River School, there are also historical societies and other institutions that commemorate lesser known Hudson River School painters, specific aspects of the Hudson River School, or the Hudson River School painters as they relate to their local community.

New York City
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institute - The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum has one of the largest Frederic Church collections of drawings, oil sketches and portraits of the Hudson River Valley. Viewing by appointment only. 2 East 91st St, Manhattan, 10128-0669. www.si.edu/ndm/; 212/849-8400

National Academy of Design - The National Academy of Design was founded in 1825 to establish a school of art and to hold annual exhibitions of contemporary art. The National Academy set standards and imparted prestige to its members. In the early days, annual exhibitions primarily consisted of portraits and landscapes.

Regularly reviewed by New York newspapers and periodicals, the National Academy's annuals were instrumental in bringing public recognition to American art. From founding members Asher B. Durand and Thomas Cole, to contemporary artists, the annual exhibition has attracted America’s finest visual artists in the fields of painting, sculpture, graphics and architecture. Asher B. Durand, already considered one of the pre-eminent portrait painters of the time debuted his The Morning of Life, 1840 and The Evening of Life, 1840 at the Academy's Annual. There is always a display of academy founders and leaders of the Hudson River School movement, including Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Albert Bierstadt, Jasper Cropsey. 1083 Fifth Ave, Manhattan, 10128. www.nationalacademy.org; 212/369-4880

Long Island
At Eaton’s Neck in Long Island, you can see the landscape the inspired the painting known by the same name, Eaton’s Neck, Long Island, 1872 by John F. Kensett is in the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. U.S. Coast Guard Station Eaton’s Neck, 631/261-6959 by appointment only.

Hudson Valley
Crawford House - Crawford House, a historical house museum owned by the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands, maintains in its collection paintings by Raphael Hoyle, Thomas Benjamin Pope, Charles Winfield Tice, and others. The paintings depict primarily local views, including Washington’s Headquarters at Newburgh, 1830, by Raphael Hoyle. Hoyle, Tice and Pope were Newburgh residents. 189 Montgomery St, Newburgh, 12550. 845/561-2585

Hudson River Museum - The mission of the Hudson River Museum is to document the culture and legacy of the surrounding communities, which include the heritage of the Hudson River School. As such, several Hudson River School paintings are always on display. 511 Warburton Ave, Yonkers, 10701. www.hrm.org; 914/963-4550

Putnam Historical Society and Foundry School Museum - The Putnam Historical Society and Foundry School Museum exhibits seven Hudson River School paintings by artists local to the area, including John Weir. 63 Chestnut St, Cold Spring, 10516. 845/265-4010

United States Military Academy at West Point - Fort Putnam and Trophy Point, both on the grounds of the Military Academy, were common vantage points for Hudson River School artists. Hudson River Scene, 1857, by John F. Kensett, was painted from the vicinity of Fort Putnam. The painting is in the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. West Point’s relationship to the Hudson River School is also through Robert Walter Weir, a Hudson River School artist who was the Academy's drawing instructor for 42 years. The West Point Museum maintains a large collection of works by Weir and others. Call ahead for information about tours and accessibility of sites. West Point, 10996. www.usma.edu/visiting; 845/938-2638

Washington’s Headquarters - Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh was a vantage point for Hudson River School artists. Raphael Hoyle’s Washington’s Headquarters at Newburgh, 1830 is displayed in Crawford House (845/561-2585), a historical house museum in Newburgh which is owned by the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands. 84 Liberty St., Newburgh 12550. 845/562-1195

Catskills Region
The Escarpment - The Escarpment in the Catskill Forest Preserve is a well-known landmark. The Escarpment is 30 miles in length and provides beautiful vistas of the region. Thomas Cole sketched many works from the escarpment, including A View of the Two Lakes and Mountain House, 1844, which is in the permanent collection at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The painting was sketched from the vicinity of Sunset Rock. North South Lake State Campground, County Rte 18, Haines Falls, 12436. 518/357-2289

Historic Catskill Point Park - This once was the landing site for dayliners that were transporting artists and others to Catskill. It also affords a view of Frederic Church’s Olana. 1 Main Street, Catskill, 12414

Site of the Catskill Mountain House - Known as the Pine Orchard, this was the magnificent setting for the Catskill Mountain House, America’s first destination mountain resort, built in 1823, perched on the edge of the eastern escarpment of the Catkills. The mountain house provided elegant 19th century R&R for America’s rich and famous, with a spectacular view of the Hudson Valley, which enchanted Hudson River School painters. Morning, Looking East over the Hudson Valley from the Catskill Mountains, 1848 by Frederic Edwin Church; which is in the permanent collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art was painted from the vicinity of this site. North South Lake State Campground, County Rte 18, Haines Falls, 12436. 518/357-2289

Kaaterskill Falls - One of the most celebrated scenic sites in 19th century America, painted several times by Thomas Cole and most of the artists of the Hudson River School. Rte 23A, Haines Falls, 12436.

Adirondacks
Fort Ticonderoga - People from many walks of life have visited Fort Ticonderoga to see the famous battlefield and fort. Among these visitors were artists who came to sketch, paint, and later photograph the famous Fort and its dramatic setting on Lake Champlain. The most notable of these artists was Thomas Cole (1801-1848). His oil on board View Near Ticonderoga, 1826, now in the collection of Fort Ticonderoga, depicts the tragic death of an officer of the Royal American Regiment during the Seven Years' War. Cole later modified the painting in 1829 and renamed it Gelyna, View Near Ticonderoga. Fort Rd, Ticonderoga, 12883. www.fort-ticonderoga.org; 518/585-2821

Lake George, a popular place for visitors, was also a popular landscape for the Hudson River School artists. Paintings of Lake George are included in museums around the state, including the Albany Institute of History and Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Finger Lakes
John D. Barrow Art Gallery - The John D. Barrow Art Gallery in the Skaneateles Public Library is devoted to the works of John Barrow (1824-1906), who was once a resident of the picturesque village of Skaneateles.
Barrow’s artistry has been classified “second generation” Hudson River School. His landscapes and lakescapes mostly glorify nature and possess the luminous qualities – the light from within – that were earmarks of Hudson River School. The gallery houses more than 360 Barrow oil paintings. 49 East Genesee St. Skaneateles 13152; 315/685-5135

Greater-Niagara
Letchworth State Park - Inspiration Point at Letchworth State Park was painted by Thomas Cole in 1839. The original painting, titled Portage Falls was given to William H. Seward when he was the Governor of New York State, and it still hangs in Seward’s former home, the Seward House Museum, in Auburn, New York. Letchworth State Park, Castile, 14427. www.nysparks.state.ny.us; 716/493-3600. Seward House, 33 South St, Auburn, 13021. www.sewardhouse.org; 315/252-1283

Niagara Falls - Many Hudson River School artists painted Niagara Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world. The painting Under Niagara, 1858, by Frederic Edwin Church, was sketched from a unique vantage point. Church chartered the Maid of the Mist to take him to the very base of the Horseshoe Fall. No artist had dared venture so close, and the captain kept the steamer headed into the current for forty minutes while Church made a rough oil sketch. The study for Under Niagara is in the permanent collection at Olana State Historic site as is Horseshoe Falls, 1856. Goat Island, also a vantage point for the adventurous, was the location from which Niagara from Goat Island, Winter, 1856, Frederic Edwin Church, was painted. This painting is in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum. Niagara Reservation State Park, 14303. www.nysparks.com; 716/278-1770.

Perry Public Library Art Gallery - Lemuel Maynard Wiles was a local resident of Perry. The permanent exhibit includes Hudson River School paintings by Lemuel and Irving Wiles. 70 N Main St, Perry, 14530. 716/237-2243


 

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