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Hudson River School Stories

Paul G. Stein

Art devotee Paul G. Stein has worked as a volunteer with the Smithsonian Archives of American Art and is a member of the Association of Historians of Nineteenth-Century Art.

Behind-the-scenes vignettes of the Hudson River School, culled from the increasing abundance of online archival sources.

Blog entries from Hudson River School Stories

David Johnson (1827-1908) - "Near Buck Mountain" - pencil on paper

"Scandal"

Posted: May 07, 2012 17:04

When he wasn’t painting, Hudson River School artist David Johnson loved to draw, with confident lines on big sheets. Every once in a while his pencil traced the figure of a woman. For example, in an 1886 drawing (above), a woman in full dress looks out over a pond in the Adirondacks. In lieu of a visible expression she appears self-possessed, as though lost in thought. In the forested background, meanwhile, is seen the shadowy and skulking figure of a man. The scene can be thought of as an unintentional metaphor: hidden in the trees of the Hudson River School artists lurked passion,...

 Frank Anderson (1844-1891)--"Mount Beacon, Fishkill, New York"--Oil on Canvas--12 x 20 in.

The Painter of Peekskill

Posted: March 28, 2012 16:50

Centuries of trained artists have flocked to cities (or nearby art colonies) where they enjoy the camaraderie of fellow artists, social and professional organizations, exhibition venues, and access to patrons. The Hudson River School painters were no exception. Even so, there have always been those artists who prefer to work apart from the creative and commercial bustle. Sometimes it seems that the personal idiosyncrasies that pull them away from the crowd also help to nurture extraordinary art. Frank Anderson is a name that carries the weight of a passing shadow against the likes of...

Musée du Louvre

A New American in Paris?

Posted: February 22, 2012 17:23

Which American painting might the Louvre be about to acquire? As ArtFixDaily and other news organizations have reported, the Musée du Louvre and three American institutions—the Terra Foundation for American Art, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art—have recently collaborated to bring the Hudson River School to the banks of the Seine. The modest exhibition is titled “New Frontier: Thomas Cole and the Birth of Landscape Painting in America” and includes four works by Thomas Cole and one by Asher Durand. Now on view at the Louvre, it travels to...

Jervis McEntee

McEntee's Masterpiece

Posted: February 05, 2012 13:06

When Hudson River School artist Jervis McEntee’s wife Gertrude died in October 1878 at the age of 44 of an unknown illness, it left a gaping hole in his life. They were married in 1854. Early on, they lived in an idyllic cottage on the McEntee family property overlooking the town of Rondout, New York (now Kingston). From their windows they could see the Catskill Mountains to the north and the Hudson River to the east. While Jervis worked on his art, Gertrude planted rose bushes around the cottage, played the piano, and sang: "I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls," "There you’ll...

LAUREN SANSARICQ (B.  1990) - The Top of Kaaterskill Falls, 2011 - Oil on panel - 12 x 16 inches

The Studio of Nature

Posted: November 16, 2011 17:13

For the Hudson River School artists there was no more sacred place than Kaaterskill Clove, the rocky, forested nave into which Thomas Cole and successive aspirants trekked and clambered, paint box and umbrella in hand. The artists rarely came alone. Working in twos or threes outdoors in nature, they probably talked art, shared tips and encouragement, or sometimes just painted together in silence, listening to what William Cullen Bryant referred to as the "still voice" coming from "Earth and her waters, and the depths of air." Today that "still voice" speaks to a new generation of young...

Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) - Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California - 64 1/2 x 96 1/2 in

Lives of a Painting

Posted: October 02, 2011 11:28

From one owner to another, from exhibition to auction, through years of adulation and years of neglect, a painting can endure a life of its own. Some lives are more exciting than others. Such is the case with Albert Bierstadt’s Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California, a monumental work measuring over five feet by eight feet in the collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art. How it arrived at the Alabama museum is a story involving shady finances, public charity, and a historic escape from destruction. Bierstadt painted Looking Down Yosemite Valley in 1865 toward the end of the Civil...

 

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