U.S. Senate Supports the Hudson River School

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Hawthorne Fine Art has always thought the Hudson River School painters to be worthy of the highest honor, but we are excited to learn that the United States Senate agrees. In October 2010, the Senate passed a new resolution honoring “the first school of American Art.”[1] The passage of the resolution was announced by New York legislators Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Maurice Hinchey, who praised the Hudson River painters for their skill and their representation of the strongest ideals of American democracy.

In the Senate, the resolution was sponsored by New York Senator Charles Schumer, while in the House, the action was co-sponsored by Representatives Scott Murphy (D-NY20), John Hall (D-NY19), Eliot Engel (D-NY17), and Jose Serrano (D-NY16). When presenting the new resolution Senator Gillibrand expressed the highest praise for the Hudson River School: “The paintings inspired by the waters and peaks of the Hudson are among the finest produced by American painters. The works of art continue to inspire new generations of artists and draw thousands of visitors to the region.”[2]

Unanimously approved, the action resolves, “That the Senate recognizes and honors the Hudson River School painters for their contributions to the United States.”[3] Beyond simply recognizing the school for its depictions of iconic American landmarks, the senators and congressmen behind the bill also stressed the Hudson River School as not only the first American artistic movement, but also the first American environmental movement.

Representative Hinchey explains, “The magnificence of this art is so powerful that it helped inspire the environmental movement in the United States and is credited with helping to encourage the development of the national park system.”[4] As seen in the above painting Mill on the Upper Hudson painted in 1846 by William Hart, the Hudson River School painters were the first to document the earliest appearances of industry in our country. While some painters, like Sanford Robinson Gifford in his Mount Merino on the Hudson (also shown above), 1861, chose to withhold the mark of industry from their paintings to preserve artistically the pristine beauty that once existed, other painters such as Hart chose to document the march of progress and its effect on the Hudson River view sheds they held so dear.

Both, however, hoped to drive home the same point, that the rivers, lakes, and mountains of the United States should be preserved from the destruction brought by railroads and factories. They were in many ways the first and most effective environmentalists. Their paintings of American nature showed viewers every detail, every graceful leaf, of the land that needed to be saved.

As the senate resolution so perfectly states, “The Hudson River School painters expressed the sense that every generation of Americans should seek to preserve the naturalness of the continent.”[5] The Hudson River School imbued our country with a deep pride in our national landscape and a sense of duty to preserve and protect what remains of the vistas they so beautifully captured.


[1] U.S. Senate. 2010. Honoring the Hudson River School Painters for the Contributions to the United States. 111th Cong., 2nd sess., S. Res. 278.

[2] Planck, Jim. “U.S. Senate Honors Hudson River Artists.” The Daily Mail 1 Oct. 2010. Web. 18 Aug. 2011.

[3] U.S. Senate. 2010. Honoring the Hudson River School Painters for the Contributions to the United States. 111th Cong., 2nd sess., S. Res. 278.

[4] “Gillibrand, Hinchey Announce Senate Passage of Resolutions Honoring the Hudson River School Painters.” Hinchey.house.gov. Maurice Hinchey. 30 Sep. 2010. Web. 17 Aug. 2011.

[5] U.S. Senate. 2010. Honoring the Hudson River School Painters for the Contributions to the United States. 111th Cong., 2nd sess., S. Res. 278.

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