Hudson River School of Art

Blake Hurlburt

Basic Biographical Info

The Hudson River School of Art was founded in circa 1825 by Thomas Cole, a wealthy landscape painter. He, among other painters with similar visions to his, taught in this school because they saw the landscape of the Adirondack Mountains, the Catskill Mountains, and the White Mountains as ineffably beautiful and should be captured in paint before civilization destroyed this natural beauty. The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut contains many of the paintings done by Hudson River School artists, most notably those of Thomas Cole and his star pupil, Frederic Edwin Church.

Subject Matter

The main focus of the Hudson River School of Art was landscape painting, due to the fact that the school was founded primarily by Thomas Cole, among other painters of similar style. The paintings created at this school typically reflected the three main themes of discovery, exploration, and settlement. The paintings were made as realistically as possible, though many paintings actually were a composition of several differing scenes. In general, Hudson River School artists that the American landscape was a manifestation of God that could not be understood, and were religiously convicted to painting what they saw.

Major Works

The Oxbow

Painted by Thomas Cole in 1836, The Oxbow represents the view from Mount Holyoke in Massachusetts following a thunderstorm. This painting currently resides in The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Niagara Falls

This painting came from a member of the second generation of landscape painters to study in the Hudson River School of Art, Frederic Edwin Church, who was Thomas Cole's star pupil. It was painted in 1857 and currently resides in the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.



The Establishment of an American Landscape and the Hudson River School