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New Approaches to the Hudson River School

Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser, Alice Pratt Brown Curator of  American Paintings and Sculpture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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The lecture will discuss new discoveries resulting from the international loan exhibition: Thomas Cole’s Journey: Atlantic Crossings. This new presentation of Cole’s life and career resulted in a re-examination of the artist’s legacy in launching the national school of landscape painting in America, later called the Hudson River school.  This talk will explore Cole’s proto-environmental message in his art, and his mentorship of such leading landscape painters as Frederic Edwin Church and Asher B. Durand, who he directly instructed, and who continued to revere Cole as they moved in new artistic directions after mid-century.  Later artists, including John F. Kensett and Sanford R. Gifford explored new approaches to depicting nature during the Civil War era.  While Cole’s legacy held firm in some respects, the successive generations of landscape artists reflected in their paintings the changes taking place in the nation over the course of the century, including the celebration of Manifest Destiny, a new understanding of science, and the impact of the Civil War.

Top picture:  Frederic Edwin Church, Above the Clouds at Sunset, 1849, Private Collection

Bottom Picture: Asher B. Durand, Progress (The Advance of Civilization), 1853, Private Collection