The Hudson River School: Landscape Paintings from the Albany Institute

Study of Nature, Dresden, Lake George, David Johnson (1827–1908), 1870, oil on canvas, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard C. Rockwell, 1971.29.1


The Albany Institute holds a large and important collection of nineteenth-century American landscape paintings, works often associated with the term “Hudson River School.” They number more than ninety paintings and range in dimension from large wall-sized canvases to small business card-sized oil sketches on paper.

We know from visitors the Hudson River School paintings are among the Institute’s most popular collections, and other museums request to borrow them for exhibitions more often than other collections. With such great interest in these works of national significance, the Institute is making them more accessible.

In the summer of 2017, the Institute opened a reinstallation of its Hudson River School paintings in the Hearst Gallery on the museum’s third floor. For the first time, nearly all ninety paintings from this important collection is on view. These landscapes, painted by artists like Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Jasper Cropsey, Asher Durand, and numerous others, capture America’s scenic grandeur in all its magnificence from rugged coastal scenery to imposing mountains and rivers.

Many paintings in the Institute’s collection depict the nation during decades of transformation from a country of small towns and farms to one of industrial works and sprawling urban centers. The nation was also in the midst of rapid westward expansion and political conflict that reshaped its social identity and cultural outlook. Developments in transportation allowed artists to travel more widely, frequently beyond the nation’s borders, to Europe and more distant corners of the globe, and return to their home country with sketchbooks full of inspiration and new ideas. The paintings on view, therefore, reveal a visual history of the United States during the nineteenth century, including its aspirations and growing nostalgia for a simpler and more harmonious past.

Discover Albany & The Hudson River School

Albany, New York is a great place to discover the Hudson River School! Visit this remarkable exhibition here at the Albany Institute of History & Art and then venture to near-by sites like the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and Olana State Historic Site; explore the Hudson River through walking and biking trails, river cruises, and special events; and more. Plan your visit with Discover Albany.

Have you heard? The year 2018 is the year of Thomas Cole! Museums across the country (and the world) are celebrating the bicentennial of his arrival in the United States. Don't miss our special exhibition featuring items from our collection, Thomas Cole's Paper Trail (June 16—October 28, 2018).

Visiting from out of town? Check out these great deals from our hospitality partners:

Exhibition Sponsors

The Albany Institute thanks the over 225 donors who contributed to this exhibition and publication. Major funding has been provided by Christine and George R. Hearst III, Lois and David Swawite and Omni Development Company, with additional support from Fenimore Asset Management, Inc., Keeler Motor Car Company, Herzog's Home and Paint Centers, Mrs. Arlen Westbrook, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas J. Baldwin, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. James C. Goodfellow, Mr. William M. Harris and Ms. Holly A. Katz, Paul and Alane Hohenberg, Mr. Charles M. Liddle III, Robert and Doris Malesardi, Mr. and Mrs. Peter J. Maloy, Dr. and Mrs. Lawrence R. Marwill, Mr. George McNamee, Martha Waddell Olson, Professor and Mrs. Nicholas Robinson, Stuyvesant Plaza, Inc., and Mr. and Mrs. Bart Trudeau.

Exhibition Events & Programs

Donor Champagne Reception | Tuesday, July 25, 2017 | 5-6:30PM | RSVP

Exhibition Reception | Tuesday, July 25, 2017 | 6:30-8PM | Free for AIHA members, $10 non-members

The Hudson River School: Landscape Paintings from the Albany Institute | gallery talk | Thursday, September 7, 2017 | 6PM | Free admission

Thomas Cole's Transatlantic Career | lecture | Sunday, October 1, 2017 | 2PM | Included with museum admission

2017 LEGO® Building Challenge: Nature | family program | Saturday, October 7— Monday, October 9, 2017 | various times | $5 per person | Registration required

The Hudson River School and the Albany Connections | curator tour | Sunday, February 25, 2018 | 2PM | Included with museum admission | Space is limited

American Landscape Painting and the "Newly Invented Stigma": Rethinking the Hudson River School | lecture with Timothy Barringer, Yale University | Sunday, April 29, 2018 | 2PM | Included with museum admission | Space is limited

Thomas Cole's Paper Trail | lecture with Doug McCombs, chief curator at the Albany Institute | Sunday, September 16, 2018 | 2PM | Included with museum admission | Space is limited

The Hudson River School and Our National Parks | lecture with Rebecca Bedell, Wellesley College | Sunday, October 14, 2018 | 2PM | Included with admission | Space is limited


The Institute’s project will culminate in a 200-page catalogue of its Hudson River School paintings. Each work will be represented with a color image along with information about history, subject matter, and artistic vision. Please check back for the release date.