A collection of lovely paintings from the New York historical Society just closed at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Victoria here, to tell you a little bit about them.

Thomas Cole, Catskill Creek, N.Y. 1845
The group of landscape painters in 19th America which became known as the Hudson River School  started by painting the lovely wilderness landscapes of the “New World” just west of the Atlantic Coast where the first European settlements grew. 
Asher Brown Durand, White Mountain Scenery, Franconia Notch, N.H., 1857

As the artists discovered more and more of the spectacular scenery, their paintings inspired more settlers and even caught the attention of the European art world.

Louise Davis Minot, Niagara Falls, 1818
Imagine encountering this enormous waterfall on the U.S.-Canadian border for the first time. Ms. Minot wrote: “The roar deepened, the rock shook over my head, the earth trembled…It was some time before I could command my pencil.”
Thomas Hill, View of the Yosemite Valley, 1865
Eventually the artists reached California and its majestic mountains…as well as all the sights in between.
The five paintings by Thomas Cole in the series “Rise and Fall” trace the development and destruction of civilization, from savage nature to feeble ruins.  
Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: The Savage State, 1834
Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: The Arcadian or Pastoral State, 1834
Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: The Consummation of Empire. 1835-36
Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Destruction, 1836
Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Desolation, 1836

Here is the official description of the exhibition: “Nature and the American Vision is a landmark exhibition featuring nearly fifty masterpieces from the New-York Historical Society’s acclaimed collection of landscape paintings, the most revered in the country. In addition to the beauty and historic value of the paintings, the exhibition charts the emergence of the Hudson River School, considered the nation’s first original artistic movement, and includes iconic works by luminaries alongside rarely seen masterpieces. Rising to eminence during the mid-nineteenth century, this loosely knit group of painters, poets, and writers forged a self-consciously American artistic voice, one grounded in the exploration of the natural world as a resource for spiritual renewal and as an expres
sion of cultural and national identity. This exhibition was organized by the New-York Historical Society and is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Milwaukee Art Museum

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