The Poetry of Nature: Hudson River School Landscapes from the New-York Historical Society

October 5, 2019–January 12, 2020  |  Fifth Third Gallery

The paintings in The Poetry of Nature reveal the natural wonders that sparked the first artistic movement in the United States. The American landscape inspired a loosely knit group of 19th-century artists to create paintings that present nature as spiritually renewing and culturally defining. Sketching outdoors and composing their ideal visions of the landscape in their studios, these artists filled their canvases with majestic mountains, tranquil valleys, enchanting forests, shimmering lakes, and luminous skies. Such views of nature forged an essential part of America’s national identity as people sought respite from rapidly expanding cities during an age of industrial progress.

While some artists traveled around the continent, this exhibition highlights the movement’s roots in New York’s Hudson River Valley; the Catskills, Adirondacks, and White Mountains; and other locations in the eastern United States. Works by well-known artists including Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Jasper Francis Cropsey, and Sanford Robinson Gifford join lesser-known gems by Louisa Davis Minot and William Louis Sonntag—who began his career in Cincinnati—to paint a picture of America’s promise embodied in landscape.