May 5 through September 3, 2012

One of the many highlights at Crystal Bridges is its fine collection of landscape paintings by masters of the Hudson River School, including Kindred Spirits, the iconic work by Asher Brown Durand. This spring, Crystal Bridges is pleased to offer guests a rare opportunity to view an exhibition of forty-five magnificent Hudson River School paintings from the collection of the New-York Historical Society.

These works have been on tour while New-York Historical Society was under renovation, and have appeared at only four museums around the country. The exhibition at Crystal Bridges, on view through September 4, will be a rare opportunity to see one of the finest collections of Hudson River School paintings.

The early nineteenth century was a time of exuberance, exploration, and dynamic growth in American history. Explorers who forged their way into the continent’s interior returned with tales of the extravagant beauty of the American West. During this time, a loosely knit group of artists and writers in New York gave birth to the first truly American vision for art and literature. That vision—which still speaks to us today—looked to nature as a source of spiritual renewal and venerated the American landscape as a romantic expression of national identity.

Their style drew from European traditions but became a self-conscious expression of the grandeur of American scenery, and a powerful assertion of national identity. Hudson River School artists often concentrated on unique and spectacular features of America, such as Niagara Falls, as a means of celebrating the economic, spiritual, and scientific benefits of the country’s vast natural resources.

Nature and the American Vision brings the world of the Hudson River School to life. In addition to well-known works by artists such as Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Church, Thomas Cole, Jasper Cropsey, Asher B. Durand, Martin Johnson Heade, and John Frederick Kensett, the exhibition includes all five paintings in Thomas Cole’s allegorical series, The Course of Empire.

John Frederick Kensett (American, 1816 – 1872)
View from Cozzens’ Hotel, near West Point, N.Y. (detail), 1863
Oil on canvas, 20 x 34 in. (50.8 x 86.4 cm)
The Robert L. Stuart Collection, S-189

All images courtesy of the New-York Historical Society