Arts Everyday Living: The Art of Autumn Week—Environmental Vision, Hudson River Valley

Jasper Francis Cropsey, Autumn–On the Hudson River, 1860, oil on canvas, Gift of the Avalon Foundation, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Title: Autumn– On the Hudson River

Artist: Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823-1900)

Before the advent of the movies, works like Autumn–On the Hudson River above attracted the public with panoramic vistas and striking colors. Among its most ardent fans was Queen Victoria, who viewed the painting when it debuted, created from memory by the Hudson River School artist Jasper Francis Cropsey then residing in England.

Measuring nearly 5 feet in height and 9 feet in width, this spectacular canvas dominates one of the National Gallery’s rooms of American art in Washington, D.C.  Sunlight illuminates the vast  landscape, radiating from the sky overhead. Is it late afternoon? Or another time of day?

A feeling of peace pervades the atmosphere. Look closely and you’ll see a group of men, relaxing in the foreground to our left, accompanied by their dogs. While farther back, and to our right, various figures can be detected, from children on a bridge to a horseback rider to a trio of cows venturing into a stream. A log cabin, too, stands nearby, providing a place of comfort and security in what not long ago had once been a wilderness.

Even more distant is the Hudson River itself, the inspiration for the United States’ earliest painters such as Cropsey, along with Thomas Cole, Frederic Church and Albert Bierstadt, among others. The fall season their favorite time when the rich foliage of the surrounding mountains enhanced the majestic beauty of the river valley. An environmental vision that has survived, not only through the legacy of their works of art, but also because of organizations like the Hudson River Foundation and the Hudson River Greenway.

Click to view details of Autumn–On the Hudson River.


In the public domain, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The National Gallery of Art does not endorse or approve use of the above image or any of the material on this website. Nor has the National Gallery of Art participated in any projects utilizing the said image.

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