Connecticut's New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA) will present The Poetry of Nature: Hudson River School Landscapes from the New-York Historical Society, January 28 to May 22, 2022, concurrent to the Bicentennial of Frederick Law Olmsted's birth in April, to examine the overlaps of American artists and landscape architects.
A stunning array of over 40 paintings created between 1818 and 1886, The Poetry of Nature illustrates America’s scenic splendor as seen through the eyes of over 25 leading Hudson River School artists, including Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, John F. Kensett, Albert Bierstadt, as well as lesser-known but important artists Josephine Walters, Christopher Pearse Cranch, and Louisa Davis Minot, among others. Its display at the NBMAA will include the addition of works by Robert S. Duncanson, the first Black artist of the Hudson River School to gain international acclaim. Drawn from the collection of the New-York Historical Society, the exhibition explores the exchange of influence among this group of artists, their favored sketching grounds, and the legacy of Hudson River School painting today.
"We are honored to showcase this spectacular group of Hudson River School masterworks from the New-York Historical Society’s preeminent collection," said Dona Cassella, Chair of the Board of Trustees and Interim Director. "The Poetry of Nature beautifully complements and expands upon our own celebrated collection of 19th-century landscape paintings. Held concurrent to the Bicentennial of Frederic Law Olmsted’s birth, the exhibition will provide a timely opportunity to explore how artists and landscape architects have depicted and shaped the land throughout American history."
The Hudson River School rose to eminence in New York during the first half of the nineteenth century. The growing number of crowded industrial cities in the East gave rise to an appreciation for pictures of the landscape untouched by man. This closely-knit group of artists, together with like-minded poets and writers, forged a self-consciously “American” landscape vision and literary voice. Both were grounded in the exploration of the natural world as a rouse for spiritual renewal and as an expression of cultural and national identity. The Hudson River and the varied scenery along its banks provided the subjects for many of their landscape paintings. The Poetry of Nature looks in-depth at depictions of the Northeast and New England.
In the context of this exhibition, the NBMAA will highlight contemporary perspectives on land use, the environment, and landscape painting in America through related programming, and by welcoming contemporary artists and scholars to reflect upon the legacy of the Hudson River School and what it means within our world today. Additionally, the exhibition will take place concurrent to the Bicentennial of Frederick Law Olmsted’s birth (April 2022), and will provide a rich platform for programming that will further explore how artists and landscape architects depicted and shaped the American landscape in the 1800s.
The New Britain Museum of American Art’s Hudson River School holdings are rich and beloved by members and visitors alike. The Poetry of Nature will be complemented by highlights in the Henry and Sharon Martin Gallery such as Thomas Cole The Cove, Catskills; Frederic Edwin Church West Rock, New Haven, and Asher Brown Durand’s Sunday Morning.
The exhibition has been organized by the New-York Historical Society, which features one of the most renowned collections of Hudson River School paintings. Dr. Linda S. Ferber, the director emerita of New-York Historical’s Museum and a leading authority on Hudson River School artists, is the curator for this extraordinary exhibition.