In the early years of the 19th century, the fledgling American nation was seeking a cultural identity apart from Europe and a style of art that it could call its own. A group of artists found the answer in the beauty and majesty of the natural world they encountered in the Hudson River Valley and the Catskills, creating magnificant landscape paintings. This movement, the first in American art, became known as the Hudson River School.
The Hudson River School painters believed art to be an agent of moral and spiritual transformation. In large-scale canvases of dramatic vistas with atmospheric lighting, they sought to capture a sense of the divine, envisioning the pristine American landscape as a new Garden of Eden.
The Hudson River School Art Trail pays homage to both the creative and the historical significance of the Hudson River School painters. Their work created not only an American art genre, but also a deeper appreciation for the nation's natural wonders, laying the groundwork for the environmental conservation movement and National Park System.
The Hudson River School of Art Trail enables you to walk in the footsteps of Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Asher B. Durand, Jasper Cropsey, Sanford Gifford and other pioneering American landscape artists, and appreciate their work in an entirely new way.
Most of the stops on the trail are within 15 miles of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Located in Catskill, this was the home and studio of Thomas Cole, acknowledged founder of the movement.
Seeing the sites on the Hudson River School Art Trail will be a memorable and rewarding experience through the Catskills, but be prepared to give it some time as the trail stops are located over a fairly wide area. Some of the stops are easy to get to by car, while others can be reached only on foot and range from an easy walk to a fairly strenuos hike. The Trail Guide & Map will help you to plan your visits to the sites you want to see.
Please use caution and common sense while on the Hudson River Art Trail! Outdoor recreational activities are by their nature potentially hazardous. All participants in such activities must assume the responsibility for their own actions and safety. Exercise caution on the roads and trails, wear appropriate clothing and footwear for the weather conditions and the activities you wish to pursue.
Starting May 1, 2013, visit the Hudson River Art Trail sites that inspired the first great landscape artists, make rubbings of the medallions at 8 stops along the Trail in the Hudson Valley, and enter to win a weekend getaway to spectacular Catskill Mountains! Visit the Hudson River School Art Trail website for complete information.