Anyone who knows me, knows I love my home state of New York. I love to explore its history and often-untold stories, and share my love for all things New York. In addition to being a lover of history, I am also an erstwhile artist, and for me, to have all of these elements come together is a rare and special treat. I hope you enjoy this peek into a special time and place in American history.
In the early to mid 1800's, there arose a group of artists that loved to paint in the Hudson River valley, the Catskill Mountains, and the Adirondacks, to capture its grand landscapes and unspoiled beauty. Thomas Cole is considered to be the father of this realistic style marked by European romanticism and luminism, an emphasis on lighting effects. It is a celebration of the wild, rugged, and picturesque, and an attempt to capture on canvas the grand scale of sweeping scenery.
The Hudson River school wasn't an actual place of study in the literal sense of a school, but rather an association of like-minded artists in one region at one place in time. The second generation of artists influenced by this school took their canvas and bushes to other places, such as the American West.
His art was so captivating it helped persuade the American people of the value of acquiring and settling these lands.His detailed paintings inhabited canvases often twelve or more feet across and six to eight feet tall, inviting the viewer to step into a scene that they could almost touch and taste and feel. How does one translate the size of a redwood tree to one who has never seen its spectacle? Or the peaks of the Sierra Nevadas, the panorama of the Great Plains? Bierstadt reproduces in almost photo realism the tiniest detail such as trout in a translucent pool, the individual leaves on a tree, and the shimmer of sunlight on water, all the while immersing the spectator in a scope that overwhelms the senses.
|Outlet at :Lake Tahoe by Albert Bierstadt|
Another of the important Hudson River School artists includes Frederic Edwin Church. Church was born into privilege as the son of a jeweler and banker. His father's largess convinced the acclaimed aforementioned Hudson School founder Thomas Cole to take Frederic into his tutelage, and soon the student proved himself an artist of international merit. Church painted not only the New York and New England landscapes, but went on to accompany naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt to South America. He is known for the scope and exactitude of his landscapes. Later, he would travel to Greenland to paint great icebergs in the North Atlantic, and later still, the Holy Land and the ancient world.
|Niagara Falls by Frederic Edwin Church|
I can almost feel the mist rising off the falls, smell the fresh air gusting up from the plunge, hear the roar of the tons of water pounding the river below. The play of light in the hazy sky and through the translucent water, the artist's depiction of sun refracting in the water droplets suspended in the atmosphere almost defies human capacity. It would be many years before a camera could approximate the same affects.
|The Catskills by Asher B Durand|
In my new novella releasing October 1 with Barbour Books' collection Lessons on Love, a Hudson River town is my setting during this approximate time period when these artists roamed the foothills and valleys and mountains of undeveloped New York State. "Something Old, Something New" tells the story of Gilda Jacobs, a young Jewish schoolmistress who must partner with Joshua Blake, a protege of New York revivalist Charles Grandison Finney, to meet the Christian curriculum requirements of the largely Dutch population of the town. It was a joy to imagine the lush natural beauty of Gilda and Joshua's world through the lens of these New York State artists.
Kathleen and her husband live in an old farmhouse in upstate NY with their children and a small menagerie.
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