THE HUDSON RIVER SCHOOL AND THE WESTWARD MOVEMENT IN LANDSCAPE PAINTING

American Romanticism was always based upon the concept of the search for the Garden of Eden. The “frontier” of America, the edges of this God-given Garden, was the Appalachian Mountains which were being probed by the early nineteenth century. Inspired by Romantic poetry, artists in the northeast were suffused with nostalgia for the vanishing frontier and celebrated the splendor that remained behind. The Hudson River painters recorded their landscapes at a precise moment in time, just before the Industrial Revolution closed in. When this “garden” in the Eastern half of the United States was destroyed by the “machine” of the railroad, the technology of the Industrial Revolution, and the horror of the Civil War, the lure of the “Frontier” inspired the painters. Part documentary and part nationalism, these Romantic landscape paintings of the untouched West celebrated the Manifest Destiny of America to stretch “from sea to shining sea.”

If you have found this material useful, please give credit to Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette and Art History Unstuffed.
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