The Hudson River School was the first truly American school of painting that was formed of a group of painters active in the 19th century New York. Amongst the other of the group was Asher B. Durand who formed truth-seeking and aesthetically robust landscape scenes of young America and beyond it. It was a time when America was grappling with issues of national identity. His paintings celebrate what was uniquely American and show a country attempting to mark the identity of its own, distinguished from Europe. He was primarily aware that portraiture was not the prime genre in the America of the day nor did it bring as much respect and regard in the artistic circles as landscape painting.
He painted big panoramic pictures that carried a message each. His paintings are sublime powerful visions of the American landscape that binds within them the ideology and beliefs that helped the nation during its formative years and shaped its future. Asher Brown Durand’ s landscape titled A View towards the Hudson Valley of the year 1851 helped create a national identity for young America which was much strived for.
The exquisiteness of its natural panorama is emblematic both of America’ s history and future potential. The extent and range of this landscape and the awe-inspiring supremacy of the pure untouched nature encompass and enthuses a pious reverence. The painters of the Hudson River School were also inspired by the writers of those times like Henry David Thoreau and James Fennimore Cooper, to name a few. Henry David Thoreau has said, “ This world is but a canvas to our imaginations. ” (Thoreau 2004). The paintings of that period seem to be celebrating the novelties of the nature unique to a nation of untouched forests, soaring mountain peaks, murky beaches, and grand waterfalls.
Those paintings embrace the transcendent vistas of the American landscape. They also offer a peek into another phenomenon that attained popularity in the 19th Century which was – travel.
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