About the Hudson River School

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◊ About the Hudson River School

The Legend of the Hudson River School

Mount Washington, by John Frederick Kensett

In the mid-19th Century, a movement of American art mirroring romanticism channeled its work into breathtaking landscape paintings. The paintings centered around depictions of the Hudson River Valley and surrounding areas of the Catskills, Adirondacks and White Mountains.

Monument Mountain, Berkshires, by Asher Brown Durand

The origin of the term “Hudson River School” remains shrouded in mystery, though they reflect three themes of America in the 19th Century: discovery, exploration and settlement. The paintings depict classic American pastoral landscapes, where nature and humans existed as one. Realistic, expertly detailed and awe-inspiring, the Hudson River movement captured America at a time of waning ruggedness and natural beauty.

El Rio De Luz (The River of Light), by Frederic Edwin Church

Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School, first brought back paintings from the area for the New York Evening Post in 1825, finding the upstate New York autumns brilliant and inspirational.

The Four Elements – Catskill Mountain House, by Thomas Cole

Taking their inspiration from European masters like Claude Lorrain, John Constable and J.M.W. Turner, the Hudson River painters shared a reverance for America’s natural beauty and a deep religious conviction that America’s pastoral beauty was a manifestation of God’s sublime creation.

Sunset Over the Palisades on the Hudson, by Sanford R. Gifford

In gathering visual data, often artists would travel to extreme environments where painting was not possible. Sketches and memories would be recorded and the paintings would be rendered elsewhere.

The tradition of the Hudson River School has been passed down through generations, and despite the movement’s long-since passage out of the vanguard of American art, breathtaking, beautiful paintings in their essence continue to this day.

Erik Koeppel’s incredible work draws heavily from the Hudson River School. In this instructional video, Koeppel teaches with clarity and detail how to paint like the great artists of the Hudson River movement, and passes his expertise on to a new generation.

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