A Distant View of Albany

William Hart (1823-1894)
Date: 1848
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 20 H x 27 W
Inscription: Signed, lower left: W Hart 1848
Credit: Albany Institute of History & Art Purchase
Accession Number: 1942.74
Comments: William Hart began his career as a portraitist, but later favored landscape paintings such as this. In most, the natural landscape was no longer wild, but had been significantly altered by the presence of people. Settlers have logged the land, cleared the fields, build towns and roads to connect them. Here, the city of Albany—already a regional center by the 1840s—is nearly incidental to the composition, which focuses on the broad green fields, scattered groves of trees, and the road where a family rests near their ox-driven wagon. Unlike contemporaries with less talent, Hart manages to give a positive impression of American life—humans in harmony with nature—without making it appear too sentimental.