Collection Spotlight: The Hudson River School

February 17, 2023–ongoing

The Hudson River School was a movement in American art embraced by landscape painters who explored Romantic themes of the wild beauty of nature from the 1830s to the 1880s.

Although they focused primarily on Hudson River Valley vistas, they also depicted landscapes from throughout the United States. English émigré Thomas Cole was the founder and influential leader of this loosely affiliated group of painters, which included Asher B. Durand, Jasper F. Cropsey, Albert Bierstadt, and Cole’s only student, Frederic E. Church, among others. Through their paintings and published prints, the Hudson River School artists forged an aesthetic that promoted the bucolic American landscape and its inevitable settlement reaching to the western frontier and even the Andes of South America.

This exhibition features works from the Museum’s collection, including paintings by Cropsey and Durand, and prints by Cole, Church, and Frances Flora Bond Palmer. They are complemented by paintings on loan, including Robert Seldon Duncanson’s Carp River, Lake Superior, 1850, and May Wheelock’s On the Esopus Creek, 1878.

The artists of the Hudson River School had a lasting impact not only on American art but also on the American landscape. For instance, their paintings inspired the United States government to create the first national parks in 1872. In the twentieth century, many preservationists were inspired by their scenes of nature, and interest in the Hudson River School escalated. More recently, scholars are examining the paintings with a more nuanced reading of how art, culture, and political history are intertwined, as we contend with environmental crises and reckon with our history of land ownership.


This exhibition is supported in part by Greg and Fay Wyatt.

Exhibitions are made possible by assistance provided by the County of Westchester.

Collection Spotlight: The Hudson River School is complemented by The Bierstadt Brothers: Painting and Photography, which features paintings by Hudson River School artist Albert Bierstadt.


Featured Artists

William James Bennett • Frederic Edwin Church • Thomas Cole • Samuel Colman • Jasper Francis Cropsey • Robert Seldon Duncanson • Asher Brown Durand • Hermann Fuechsel • Sarah E. Harvey • Samuel Valentine Hunt • George Inness • John Frederick Kensett • Fitz Henry Lane • Frances Flora Bond Palmer • Francis Augustus Silva • James Smillie • May Wheelock

Asher B. Durand (American, 1796–1886). Landscape, ca. 1855–60. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Hudson River Museum. Gift of Mrs. George J. Stengel, by exchange, 2000 (2000.01).