The Making of the Hudson River School

The Making of the Hudson River School


This exhibition originated from the frequently asked question “what is the Hudson River School?” We can begin with three basic facts.

First, the Hudson River School refers to American landscape painting created between 1825 and roughly 1875.

Second, the Hudson River School was not an actual school, but a group of artists who mainly lived and painted in the Hudson River valley of New York. They frequently knew one another, went on sketching trips together, and exhibited their paintings side by side at exhibitions and galleries.

Third, the name Hudson River School was not used by the artists themselves. The name came into general use in the 1870s, at a time when their style was losing popularity.

In addition to these three statements, this exhibition reveals that much more went into the making of the Hudson River School, such as the influence of European traditions and cultural movements, as well as America’s natural environment and commercial spirit. The Hudson River School also emerged alongside the new medium of photography, the new science of geology, and new technologies that transformed travel and inaugurated an industrial revolution. The Hudson River School ultimately helped shape an American identity.


This online exhibition has been supported by a grant from the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area

Exhibition curated by W. Douglas McCombs

Digital images by Allison Munsell

Photography by Allison Munsell and Joseph Levy

Additional assistance from Tammis K. Groft, Tom Nelson, Elizabeth Reiss, Nicole Peterson, Aine Leader-Nagy, Erika Sanger, Barbara Collins, Sarah Clowe, Susan Hsu, Scott Stewart, Elizabeth Bechand, Joe Benassi, Janine Moon

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