TEACHING THE HUDSON VALLEY BLOG
|Hudson River Art Trail|
|Posted by Graham Humphrey|
|on July 03, 2012|
Summer is a great time to explore the newly expanded Hudson River Art Trail. Last month I visited Thomas Cole National Historic Site, also known as Cedar Grove, to learn about the recent expansion of the trail.
Betsy Jacks, the site director, revealed a marvelous new website, which includes downloadable trail maps, a “plan your trip” section with information about parking and fees, an expanded bibliography, and a glossary and interactive map where you can compare scenes the artists painted with how the area looks today.
Sandford Robinson Gifford's Hook Mountain, Near Nyack, on the Hudson, 1866.
Retrieved from ARTstor courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery.
Kevin Avery, retired curator of American painting and sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gave a wonderful lecture about some familiar Art Trail locations such as Kaaterskill Falls and Inspiration Point along the Escarpment Trail, as well as newer sites like Lake Mohonk and the view of the Hudson River from the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site.
I was surprised to learn that even many of the newer sites on the Art Trail were painted by Hudson River School artists. For instance, while volunteering at Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival at Croton Point State Park in Croton-on-Hudson, I discovered that Hook Mountain Near Nyack was painted by Sanford Gifford. (See below for more on Gifford.)
If you do not feel like exploring these sites on your own, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site offers guided hikes. The next available excursion is to Kaaterskill Falls and the Catskill Mountain House on July 14. Three additional hikes are offered later this summer and fall. Get details.
Anyone interested in the Hudson River School should also keep on the lookout in September for additional virtual tours on related sites in the Connecticut River Valley, New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and Yellowstone National Park. There is also a special exhibit, “Nature in America: Taming the Landscape” through August 26 at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie.
THV’s website features two units with activities and lessons associated with Cedar Grove: Catskill Heritage for grades 4-6 and Landscape Connections for grades 11 and 12.
Sanford Gifford (1823-1880) was a landscape painter and a leading member of the second generation of the Hudson River School. His landscapes are known for their emphasis on light and soft atmospheric effects, and he is regarded as a practitioner of Luminism, an offshoot of the Hudson River School.
Gifford was born in Saratoga County and spent his childhood in Hudson where his father owned an iron foundry and bank. He served as a corporal in the Union Army during the Civil War and then attended Brown University. Leaving Brown in 1845 Gifford studied drawing, perspective, and anatomy in New York City.
He exhibited his first landscape at the National Academy of Design in 1847 and several years later was appointed a full member. Read more and view a slideshow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.