An exhibition, “The Course of Empire: Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School Landscape Tradition,” featuring selections from the New-York Historical Society opens at the New York State Museum on August 23.
This exhibition, in the museum’s West Gallery through November 30, will showcase the depth and richness of the New-York Historical Society’s collection of paintings and works on paper by renowned artists of the Hudson River School of landscape painting. The Hudson River School was a loosely knit group of artists living and working in New York during the middle decades of the Nineteenth Century. The rise of landscape painting as the preeminent American art form during this time emerged from a growing taste for the beauty and grandeur of nature when the nation was rapidly transforming itself into an industrial empire.
Cole, long considered the founder of the Hudson River School and the father of Nineteenth Century American landscape painting, takes center stage in this exhibition with his seminal five-painting series, “The Course of Empire.” Commissioned in 1833 by the pioneering American art collector Luman Reed, the series was a culminating achievement in the artist’s career, embodying ideas and approaches to landscape that profoundly influenced scores of other Hudson River School artists, many of whom are featured in the exhibition.
The exhibition, sponsored by the New York State Museum Institute and HSBC, features 40 paintings and 11 works on paper, including engravings and lithographs. Artists represented include several of Cole’s devoted followers and friends, most notably Frederic Edwin Church, Asher Brown Durand, Jasper Francis Cropsey, John Frederick Kensett and Martin Johnson Heade.
The museum is planning several fall programs in conjunction with “The Course of Empire” exhibition. On Saturday, September 20, a discussion on the works in the exhibition will be led by the curator, Lee Vedder, a Luce curatorial fellow at the New-York Historical Society. This will be preceded by a lecture and slide show on the Hudson River School at 1 pm.
Tours of the homes of Cole and Church are planned for Saturday, October 5. The trip, which will leave the State Museum at 8:30 am, will take participants to Cedar Grove in the northern Catskills, a National Register historic site, where Cole established the foundation of the Hudson River School. The tour will then go to Olana, the home of Church, who studied with Cole. The trip is $60, including lunch in Hudson.
Reservations are required by October 4 and can be made by calling Travels thru History at 518-372-0777. Free teachers’ workshops on the exhibition are planned for September and October. They are for teachers of art, social studies or language arts, and include an exclusive tour of “Course of Empire,” a hands-on activity and an education resource guide. For reservations or education resource materials, 518-474-0080.
The New York State Museum is on Madison Avenue. For information 518-474-5877 or .