When artists sought to build a market for landscape painting in the nineteenth-century United States, they encountered a major difficulty: the American landscape lacked the grand castles and ruins that had made landscape representation so evocative and popular in many European countries. The artist Thomas Cole described this problem as "the want of associations" in a natural world that seemed all too fresh and wild to European eyes. The solution that Cole proposed was the depiction of ordinary houses—"abodes of plenty"—already rising in the wilderness and inscribing it with democratic virtue in place of the feudal associations of the European landscape. This exhibition presents works by Cole, Asher B. Durand, Edward Hopper, and George Inness, among others, that show the fundamental role the depiction of domesticity continues to play in a vibrant American landscape tradition and the wide variety of approaches artists have taken to this subject matter.
This Teaching Gallery exhibition is curated by William L. Coleman, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Art History & Archaeology in Arts & Sciences, in conjunction with his course "'The Hudson River School': Landscape and Ideology," offered in spring 2016.
Asher Brown Durand, A New England Landscape, 1870. Oil on canvas, 14 1/4 x 24 1/8". Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis. Bequest of Charles Parsons, 1905.