Hudson River School | Art Trails

Hiking the Hudson Valley: An Artist’s Inspiration

Jenny Lyubomudrova | September 29th, 2017 | Posted in News

By Megan Gatton, Intern

As the leaves begin to change and autumn signals her arrival, we are reminded to pause and ponder the beauty of the world surrounding us. There is no better time or place to appreciate the resplendent glory of nature than the Hudson River Valley in autumn. Visitors to this historic landscape can experience the magnificent sights that inspired the first truly American art movement. The following locations are among our favorite places to visit this fall; their beauty has been eternally preserved on canvas by artists of the Hudson River School.

Hyde Park, New York
The hometown of President Franklin D. Roosevelt features both the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Museum and Home and the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site. While learning about the lives of America’s most storied families, visitors can experience the stunning setting that David Johnson immortalized in his View from Hyde Park (1869; Private collection).

West Point, New York
The training ground of some of our nation’s finest military officers also has a rich artistic history. While teaching art at the United States Military Academy at West Point, artist and educator Robert Walter Weir created several masterpieces inspired by the surrounding landscape. The site’s serene beauty was also captured by Alfred Thompson Bricher in his The Hudson River at West Point (1864, Terra Foundation for American Art).



Alfred Thompson Bricher (1837–1908), The Hudson River at West Point, 1864, oil on canvas, 20⅛ x 42¼ inches, signed lower left: A.T. Bricher 1864. Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1993.17.


Albany, New York
Located in New York’s state capital is the New York State Museum, the oldest and largest state museum in the country, with a collection of over 17 million scientific and cultural objects. This journey through New York’s history is enhanced by the surrounding town and countryside, which William Hart and Andrew Andrews depicted in their works.

Olana State Historic Site, Hudson, New York
Frederic Edwin Church’s estate, Olana, which served as both his home and studio, includes a villa which he designed with architect Calvert Vaux by combining Middle-Eastern and Victorian styles. The interior of this fascinating building is filled with Church’s extensive collection of paintings and decorative art acquired during his lifetime, as well as of course, masterpieces by Church himself. Visitors to Olana are afforded an incredible opportunity to gain personal insight into the life and work of one of the central figures of the Hudson River School.



John Williamson (1826–1885), Kaaterskill Clove, oil on canvas, 14⅛ x 10¾ inches, monogrammed lower left: J. W.


Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Catskill, New York 
Located just across the Hudson River from Olana are the home and studios of Thomas Cole, one of the founders of the Hudson River School. Guests have the unique opportunity to see the world through Cole’s eyes by pausing at the West Porch of his home, where he sketched the beginnings of some of his masterpieces. A short drive from the house is New York State’s largest cascading waterfall, Kaaterskill Falls, and Kaaterskill Clove, both of which inspired many Hudson River School artists including Cole, Jervis McEntee, John Williamson, and Sanford Robinson Gifford.

A short drive away from Kaaterskill Falls and the Thomas Cole National Historic Site is North-South Lake, whose campground offers swimming, boating, and fishing and is featured in numerous pieces by Cole, Church, and Jasper Francis Cropsey. There are plenty of scenic spots along the lake where nature’s splendor can be enjoyed, including Sunset Rock painted by Cole, Cropsey, and Gifford. The trailhead to the former site of the Catskill Mountain House is accessible from the campground and offers hikers the perfect vantage point to experience the stunning panorama that inspired the first major movement of American art.



Daniel Huntington (1816–1906), Lake Mohonk, 1872, oil on canvas, 12 1/16 x 24 inches, signed and dated lower right: D. Huntington 72.


Mount Merino in Hudson, New York
This majestic mountain can be viewed from its base by the Hudson River or hikers can take a trail to its summit, where, according to local legend, Gifford made the decision to become a landscape painter. The mountain was featured in his 1864 painting, South Bay, on the Hudson, Near Hudson, New York (Private collection) and has been included in his work at least eleven times. Visitors can find beauty, and possibly inspiration to take up a paintbrush themselves, in the splendor of this region.

The Shawangunk Mountains
The Shawangunk Mountains comprise a gorgeous mountain range, painted by both Gifford and Worthington Whittredge. Adventurers into the mountains should consider spending the night at the Mohonk Mountain House, a famed hotel that has hosted dozens of historic guests. The Mountain House is located on the shores of Lake Mohonk featured in paintings by Cole. Guests can take a short trail hike from the Mountain House to Sky Top and Eagle Cliff, two vantage points immortalized by Gifford, Whittredge, William Louis Sonntag and Martin Johnson Heade.

Megan is an intern at Questroyal. She is currently an undergraduate at New York University pursuing an interdepartmental major in classics and art history with a focus on archeology. She has worked at a wide variety of museums and galleries in Boston and New York and has discovered that her passion lies in objects from antiquity and American paintings.

Jenny Lyubomudrova received a B.A. in European studies and art history from Barnard College, Columbia University. Her primary interest lies in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century painting. Jenny joins Questroyal with experience in fine and decorative art from two international auction houses in New York. She is fluent in Russian.