The Hudson River School and The Hudson Valley – Cradle of American Art

The Hudson River School, Thomas Cole, Kaaterskill Falls
Kaaterskill Falls by Thomas Cole. The hike is within a short driving distance from Hudson, NY.

From the earliest European explorers to the modern day, the natural splendor of the Hudson Valley has been a source of excitement and inspiration. Dutch settlers plying the wide lower bay of the Hudson River in 1614 were caught in thrall of the sheer sparkling beauty of the land, and the bounty of life flying up into the sky and swimming in the waters beneath them. As civilization progressed, and the land filled with farmers and towns, the Hudson River became a centerpiece of a growing nation. Trade ships carried on swirling breezes carried goods across the Erie Canal, and down to the mighty tug of the oceanic tides that pulled the continent into New York harbor. In the first few days of the Erie Canal in 1825, a man by the name of Thomas Cole took a steamship up the Hudson, and hiked into the bucolic Eden of the Catskill mountain range overlooking the river. There, amid sun flecked leaves and sweet mountain air, he painted the earliest known works of the first truly American art movement: The Hudson River School.

The Hudson River School. Grandeur Illuminated

The landscape paintings Cole produced garnered immediate praise, and within two years he had established himself in a studio (now a museum) in the town of Catskill New York, where he produced works until his death in 1848. Artists and viewers around the world were drawn to the vast expanse and sublime illumination of the American landscape depicted by Cole. His works showed solitary men amidst mountain valleys bounding towards broad and limitless horizons of untapped wilderness. The American soul had been awakened, and it rose from the mountain streams and shivering boughs of the Hudson Valley. Brilliant artists followed in the footsteps of Cole and went on to become masters equaling and in some instances surpassing Cole himself, including such greats as Frederick Edwin Church, John Frederick Kensett, and Sanford Robinson Gifford. Perhaps the greatest was Frederick Edwin Church, the only pupil Cole ever had.

A Legacy Enshrined

The Hudson River School, Frederic-Edwin-Church
View of the Hudson Valley painted from Olana by Frederick Edwin Church. Today, visitors can experience the preserved landscape.

Between the years of 1855 and 1875, Church dazzled the world. The vast sizes and sumptuous detail of his canvasses called up in viewers both the promise, and the reality of the enormous untapped wonders of the American landscape. In 1860, Church moved with his family onto a farm called Olana in Hudson New York, with a sumptuously designed Persian-style house on a hill overlooking the Hudson Valley and the home of Thomas Cole. From the porch of Olana, Church painted masterpiece after masterpiece, giving us broad sweeps of the valley and the river dappled with sunlight and autumnal foliage. Today, Olana can be visited as a museum, with the preserved landscape visible from its porch so that visitors can experience the same view that changed American art forever, the views that inspired the Hudson River School.

To visit Thomas Cole’s home, Cedar Grove, please visit: Cedar Grove

To visit Frederick Edwin Church’s home, Olana, please visit: Olana

Mount Merino Manor is within walking distance to Olana. We’re surrounded by 100 acres of gorgeous forest and views of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River. Our guests love to hike to Olana and picnic, relax and enjoy the outdoors. Click here to find your perfect room.




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