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The Hudson River School: Art, History, Science, and National Identity

Afternoon Lecture/Seminar

Friday, September 22, 2023 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0780
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Materials for this program

Niagara (detail) by Frederic Edwin Church, 1857

Note: This program has a rescheduled date (originally August 25, 2023).

The paintings of the Hudson River School artists define our image of early 19th-century America: romantic, light-suffused landscapes that capture the wonders of nature and the promise of an expanding nation. Works by painters such as Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, and Frederic Edwin Church—in addition to the less well-known Sarah Cole, Susie Barstow, and Mary Josephine Walters—synthesize the European landscape tradition with a distinctly American view of nature, science, and spirituality reflected in Thoreau and Emerson. The results range from Church’s dramatic views of Niagara Falls to Durand’s idealized landscapes bathed in a golden glow.

Art historian Heidi Applegate examines the themes that circle around the group of diverse artists now assigned the Hudson River School name. A title that once identified their favorite locales, it became a disparaging term when American artistic tastes turned from landscape and genre subjects to more cosmopolitan themes influenced by European-trained painters after the Civil War. She explores why these Hudson River School artists were so popular, how they fell out of favor, and why their art has generated renewed interest.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*

General Information

*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.