The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) now presents From the Schuylkill to the Hudson: Landscapes of the Early American Republic on view through December 29, 2019 in the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building.
Philadelphia's key role in the growth of American landscape painting has never been the subject of a major museum exhibition. From the Schuylkill to the Hudson will delve into the important and underexplored tradition of landscape painting in Philadelphia from the Early American Republic to the Centennial Exhibition and how that tradition shaped the better-known Hudson River School in New York State. PAFA's exhibition, along with the accompanying catalog, will illuminate the growth of the landscape genre from its roots, through its rise into the public consciousness, and as a leading area of art historical interest.
"I am thrilled to be able to take a deep dive into PAFA's treasure trove of landscape paintings dating from the United States' founding in 1776 to its Centennial in 1876," said Dr. Anna O. Marley, Curator of Historical American Art at PAFA. "As a scholar of early American landscape in paintings as well as in the decorative arts, I am excited to share the untold story of Philadelphia's role in the development of landscape representation in the United States. I hope this exhibition will appeal to audiences fascinated with the history of Philadelphia and its waterways, environmental and civic histories, and lovers of romantic American landscape painting."
Thomas Cole—the acknowledged leader of what in the 1870s would come to be known as the Hudson River School of painting—began his career as a landscape painter after living and training in Philadelphia and at PAFA. During the time he spent in the city in the 1820s, he was influenced by the work of Thomas Doughty and Thomas Birch, whose American landscapes were on view at PAFA. Doughty and Birch were only two of many landscape painters living in and exhibiting their work in Philadelphia at the time, including Charles Willson Peale, James Peale, William Russell Birch, John Lewis Krimmel, Joshua Shaw, Jacob Eichholtz, and Russell Smith, all of whom are in this exhibition. Indeed, PAFA has been exhibiting landscape paintings by American artists since its first annual exhibition in 1811, a full 15 years before the founding of the so-called "Hudson River School."
From the Schuylkill to the Hudson will showcase the manner in which Philadelphia water views—whether of the Schuylkill, Wissahickon, or Delaware—constituted some of the earliest and most influential sites within American visual culture.
The superlative works in the exhibition will be drawn primarily from PAFA's outstanding permanent collection—along with select public and private local collections—underlining the key role Philadelphia, and PAFA itself, played in the development of landscape painting in America.
A highlight of the exhibition will be a group of major Hudson River School paintings acquired by PAFA over the last 10 years, including works byThomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, David Johnson, Frederic Church, and Thomas Moran. In addition to exhibiting paintings and prints, From the Schuylkill to the Hudson: Landscapes of the Early American Republic will share with visitors the broader story of landscape representation in Philadelphia by including decorative ceramics produced both locally and globally.
The lavishly-illustrated accompanying catalog will include an essay on landscape representation in Philadelphia in painting and decorative arts by Dr. Marley, and an essay on the shifting symbolism of waterways in early American print culture by Ramey Mize, a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania.
"Dr. Marley's exhibition is an almost radical proposition for American art history because she is arguing for an expanded understanding of landscape painting in America and showing us that Philadelphia has an established tradition before New York," said PAFA's Brooke Davis Anderson, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum. "I am looking forward to the debate and conversation this exhibition invites."
Etch and Flow, a companion exhibition to From the Schuykill to the Hudson, will feature prints by artists associated with the American Etching Revival and Impressionism—including James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Thomas Moran, Mary Nimmo Moran, Margaret M. Taylor, Edith Loring Peirce, Childe Hassam, and Daniel Garber. The installation will be on view in the Richard C. von Hess Foundation Works on Paper Gallery in PAFA's Historic Landmark Building from June 28–December 29, 2019.
The Henry Luce Foundation is generously supporting From the Schuylkill to the Hudson: Landscapes of the Early American Republic. Each year, the Foundation supports several exhibitions drawn mainly from an institution's permanent collection.
The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding. Since 1982, the Foundation's American Art Program has been a leader in art funding in the United States, supporting museums, universities, and arts organizations in their efforts to advance the understanding and experience of American and Native American visual arts through research, exhibitions, publications, and collection projects.
"From the Schuylkill to the Hudson: Landscapes of the Early American Republic, like other highly original collection-based exhibitions the Foundation's American Art Program has recently supported, will demonstrate that collection-based projects can offer unique and valuable content that moves the field forward," said Dr. Teresa A. Carbone, Program Director for American Art at the Foundation.