The American wilderness has been fundamentally important in creating a national identity throughout history. The Hudson River School was an American art movement founded by Thomas Cole in 1825. The painters used the river as the inspiration to realistically describe the stunning regions and amazing landscapes. Their style was influenced by European romanticism. The artists shared common design ideals, uniting them as a school. They focused on the American wilderness, especially the Hudson River Valley, Catskill Mountains and Adirondack Mountains. Their work was a celebration of God’s divine handwork in nature.
In the mid 1850s, the young nation was growing and the Hudson River painters illustrated the beauty of the country. They embraced nature and showed a remarkable attention to detail within the natural landscape. The artists moved their studios outside and sketched directly from nature focusing on the drama of light and shadow. The artists depicted rugged landscapes, dramatic sunrises or ominous storm clouds brewing.
The school popularized the idea of Manifest Destiny and came to symbolize American vitality, Independence and nationalism.
Source: The Hudson River School, 1825-1875