National Academy Celebrates the 400th Anniversary of Hudson, Fulton and Champlain

February 4, 2009 at 6:28 pm Leave a comment

American Waters: Celebrating the 400th Anniversary of Hudson, Fulton and Champlain brings to light many works that have rarely been viewed by the public. This exhibition features more than 50 works drawn from the National Academy’s wide-ranging collection of American art. Spanning the period 1850-2000, American Waters explores the myriad ways American artists have represented American aquatic environs, especially in the northeastern regions.

This year, New York State and its many communities are celebrating a yearlong series of events to commemorate the 400th anniversary of New York State and the dual anniversaries of the voyages of English Captain Henry Hudson and Frenchman Samuel de Champlain. Within a century of their discoveries, the waterways that now bear the names Hudson and Champlain merged into one vital corridor at the epicenter of global commerce, politics and ideas. To celebrate these simultaneous Quadricentennials – as well as the 200th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s successful maiden steamboat journey up the Hudson River– the National Academy’s exhibition, American Waters reveals a unique historical perspective through select paintings of rural and urban American landscapes captured by generations of American artists.

Among the eastern sites pictured are the Hudson River and Niagara Falls of New York, the Saco River of New Hampshire, and Blubber Island in Maine. Some highlights of the exhibition are paintings by members of the second generation of the Hudson River School, which include John Frederick Kensett’s dramatic painting of Bash-Bish Falls, one of Massachusetts’ highest and most dramatic waterfalls. A section devoted to the landscape and marine painter William Trost Richards offers eight works given to the Academy by his daughter in 1952 and include a suite of five masterful watercolors of the sea that have not been seen by the public in many years. In contrast, Junius Allens’ East River Waterfront, Guy Carleton Wiggens’ Manhattan, and Ernest Lawson’s Road Down the Palisades describe the cityscapes along the Hudson River’s ever changing waters’ edge.

American Waters provides a distinctive view of a variety of areas all across the continental United States. The exhibition features the Academy’s superb, but little known group of paintings by leading Pennsylvania Impressionists Daniel Garber, Edward Willis Redfield, Robert Spencer and John Fulton Folinsbee who painted in and around New Hope. Western waterways are represented by Albert Bierstadt’s sparkling view of Devil’s Gate, a gorge on the Sweetwater River in Wyoming, which was a major landmark along the Oregon Trail, Gregory Kondos’ 1993 view of a lonely strip of modern homes bordered by the Sacramento River, and Susan Shatter’s 1990 Alluvial Fantasy, based on observations and studies of natural erosion the artist made while working on the west coast. The imagery in Gregory Amenoff’s Dusk and Dim 1, 1996, developed as the result of spending time observing the role of water in the desert of the American Southwest. All of the works in American Waters are by National Academy artist members past and present day.

Among the 53 artists who are featured are Gregory Amenoff, Robert Berlind, Albert Bierstadt, George H. Boughton, Howard Russell Butler, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Asher B. Durand, Yasu Eguchi, Robert Gwathmey, Daniel P. Huntington, William Hart, George Inness, Yvonne Jacquette, John F. Kensett, Paul Resika, William Trost Richards, George Gardner Symons, Charles H. Woodbury and Newell Convers Wyeth.

This exhibition was organized by Bruce Weber, Senior Curator, 19th Century Art.


Entry filed under: Get Wet.

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