Among Fruitlands extensive collection of Hudson River School landscapes, the Art Gallery features two works by Albert Bierstadt. The Hudson River School is a nineteenth century American art movement which focused on depicting a romanticized vision of an unexplored American landscape.
In reaction to the rational logic of Neoclassicism in art at the turn of the nineteenth century, Hudson River School artists replaced logical aesthetics with the expressive and idealized aesthetics of Romanticism. Artists like Thomas Cole, George Inness, Asher Brown Durand, and Alvin Fisher began painting idealized images of the Hudson River Valley region. Towards the mid-nineteenth century a second generation of Hudson River School artists began to focus on the inspirational and transcendent qualities of nature and painted images of an idealized and sublime American landscape.
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With roots in European Romanticism, the Hudson River painters set about to define a distinct vision for American art. These serene and awe-inspiring vistas, in which a small figure often communes with nature, were intended to evoke elevated thoughts and feelings. The artists active during the years of egalitarian Jacksonian democracy and expansion translated this ideology into an aesthetic that was sweeping and spontaneous. The development of the Hudson River school signaled a transition from a frontier mentality to a rapidly developing cultural consciousness. Through their art they celebrated the awe inspiring natural resources and a feeling of optimism present in the America.
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Landscape paintings played a seminal role in the development of the American identity, the foundation of America as a community, as well as the development of the tourism market in mid19th century America. New exhibitions of landscape paintings in New York drew thousands eager to see what this great big new country looked like. The landscape paintings capture the aspirations of a new nation.