We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Hudson River School?

By S. Mithra
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The artists' movement now known as the Hudson River School flourished in mid-19th century America, depicting sublime landscapes of the West. These painters founded their philosophy on the ideal of nature as God, and devoted themselves to landscapes that invoked the same awe and reverence.

Thomas Cole founded the movement in 1825 in dialog with literary Transcendentalists like Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. They all believed in the ideal of the new American identity as one of limitless potential. Away from the strict, suffocating culture of Europe, they explored a new spirituality. The raw, open vistas of upstate New York drew the Hudson River School to the potential power of "unspoiled" natural formations. Man's communing with nature symbolized the return to a pure, direct worship of God. Artists had the intuition to reproduce in the viewer the same worship by representing the sublime.

New, also, was their methodology and technique. The paintings of key figures such as Asher Durand and Frederic Church exemplify the standard composition. A large canvas shows a vista under dramatic lighting. Set often at dawn or dusk, small people in the foreground emphasize the grandeur of the view. The depiction favors realism, but the accentuated lighting romanticizes the landscape. Fallen trees and tree stumps are a popular trope of the sublime, as they remind us of the power of nature to destroy and renew.

The Hudson River School promoted a nationalist agenda. They broke with the European Romantics with another perspective on their country's role in the Americas. They believed that American independence was reflected in the "empty" wilderness. This perception urged them to populate the West as dictated by the Manifest Destiny. A moral imperative to experience, yet not spoil, the beauty of the wilderness ignored the possible moral obligation to those already living contentedly in the "wild" of the continent. Americans in bustling cities on the coast dreamed of living independently in the mountains. However, the utter calamity of the Civil War destroyed the artists' ideals, and the Hudson River School's work stalled around 1876.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.