Hudson River School | Major Artists

Major Artists of the Hudson River School

The artists of the Hudson River School, based in New York City, emerged as a truly cohesive group beginning around 1850, under the influence of the English-born artist Thomas Cole (1801–1848). Cole’s friend and one of his first proponents, Asher B. Durand (1796–1886), became the acknowledged leader of the New York-based artists after Cole’s death in 1848. Along with Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902), Durand became one of the school’s most famous and successful painters. A second generation of artists, including Cole’s student Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900), John Frederick Kensett (1816–1872), Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823–1880), and Bierstadt rose to prominence primarily after Cole’s death. These artists greatly expanded the subject matter and artistic techniques of the school, moving beyond the Hudson River Valley and surrounding New England areas and focusing on luminous, heroic landscape scenes across the United States and abroad.

Many Hudson River School artists influenced successive generations of artists, inspiring formal and thematic experimentations in modern art in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Sanford Robinson Gifford is noted for his evocative emphasis of light, soft atmospheric effects, and aerial perspective. Gifford is regarded as a major practitioner of Luminism, a style developed from the Hudson River School and practiced primarily from the 1850s to the 1870s. George Inness (1825–1894), influenced by Old Master painters, fellow Hudson River School artists, the Barbizon School in Europe, and Swedenborgian theology, helped define the emerging Tonalist style, prominent from the 1880s and into the early twentieth century, which injected a sense of individual emotion and spirituality in American landscape via expressive new approaches to color and composition.

Other prominent artists of the Hudson River School include Thomas Doughty (1793–1856), Johann Hermann Carmiencke (1810–1867), John W. Casilear (1811–1893), Martin Johnson Heade (1819–1904), George Henry Durrie (1820–1863), Thomas Worthington Whittredge (1820–1910), William Hart (1823–1894), William Bradford (1823–1892), Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823–1900), James McDougal Hart (1828–1901), Jervis McEntee (1828–1891), Edward Moran (1829–1901), Louis Rémy Mignot (1831–1870), Samuel Colman (1832–1920), Hermann Ottomar Herzog (1832–1932), William Trost Richards (1833–1905), George Henry Boughton (1833–1905), Hermann Fueschel, (1833–1915), Thomas Hiram Hotchkiss (1834–1869), Francis Augustus Silva (1835–1886), William Stanley Haseltine (1835–1900), Homer Dodge Martin (1836–1897), and Thomas Moran (1837–1926). Because the Hudson River School was never a formal artistic school, it can be difficult to create an all-encompassing list of related artists.


Thomas Cole (1801–1848) Imaginary Landscape with Towering Outcrop
Oil on canvas, 18 ½ x 14 7/8 inches


George Inness (1825–1894) Palisades on the Hudson
Oil on canvas, 20 1/8 x 30 1/8 inches
Signed lower right: G. Inness

Images courtesy of Questroyal Fine Art, LLC