The Hudson Flows West
June 15 – October 13, 2013
The Hudson River School is an art-historical designation applied to a group of mid-nineteenth-century American painters united by wanderlust, national pride, and a desire to render the bounty of the virgin landscape with a high degree of realism and an undercurrent of romantic idealism. It takes its name from the East Coast’s Hudson River, originally known as Muhheakantuck, “the river that flows both ways,” north and south.
Drawn from holdings of the Frye Art Museum and local private collections, The Hudson Flows West explores how the complicated notion of manifest destiny informed emblematic depictions of the “New World,” from the pristine beauty of the Hudson River Valley to the earliest images of the western frontier. While these depictions of spectacular and awe-inspiring natural phenomena were often used as rationale for expansion and exploitation of the wealth of resources they detailed, their works reflect the artists’ deep reverence for the land, one that coincided with stirrings of environmental consciousness and the national call for preservation.
In addition to paintings by Jasper Cropsey and Albert Bierstadt, key figures from the first generation of the Hudson River School, the exhibition includes important works by second-generation Hudson River School painters Samuel Colman and George Herbert McCord as well as a major painting by the affiliated Luminist painter Alfred Thompson Bricher. The Hudson Flows West also includes works by Cleveland Rockwell and Sydney Laurence, two of the finest artists working in the Hudson River School tradition in the Pacific Northwest.