Hudson River School | New Beginnings

The Closing of an Era and New Beginnings

Around the Centennial Exposition of 1876, the popularity of the Hudson River School was decidedly on the wane, subsumed by other genres and styles of art. After the Civil War, the aesthetic orientation of the United States shifted from Great Britain to France. Collectors and critics began to favor the spontaneous naturalism of the Barbizon school and its advocacy of complete plein-air painting, emphasis on Realism and loose brushwork, and lyrical, intimate settings. In addition, Americans began to favor figure painting over landscape. A new generation of painters, led by the likes of George Inness, nevertheless carried the torch, successfully pursuing the aims and themes of the Hudson River School artists, furthering their efforts with a fresh artistic modality. Artists such as Inness ascribed to the style of Tonalism and experimented with color theory, mathematical compositions, and expressive mood in ways that signaled the birth of a new era in artistic practice.


George Inness (1825–1894) Landscape, c.1891-92
Oil on canvas, 15 1/4 x 12 inches
Signed lower left: G. Inness

Image courtesy of Questroyal Fine Art, LLC