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The Hudson River School and Rip Van Winkle
Transcript of The Hudson River School and Rip Van Winkle
"Rip Van Winkle"
A Reaction to the Industrial Revolution
The Hudson River School
The first truly American type of painting --represented by a group of artists-- was called the Hudson River School.
The landscapes of the Hudson River School focused on the unique natural features of North America, starting with the Hudson River region in New York, but eventually extending all the way to California.
As cities became overcrowded, polluted, and unsafe, Romantic artists turned to nature for relief and inspiration.
For Romantics, nature represented morality and God. They feared that if nature were altered by the Industrial Revolution, we would lose something special.
Therefore, some painters
set out to capture the
beauty of nature before it
These painters found their inspiration in nature, using its beauty to represent the hopefulness of America and other Romantic values.
The Catskill Mountains and Hudson River were very popular subjects of this artistic movement. Many painters from the Hudson River School even moved to the mountains and the banks of the river.
Much Romantic writing was also set in the natural wilderness of America. In addition, some Romantic writers from this period were friendly with and lived nearby these painters.
Many of these painters had studied art in Europe and used the European style which paid careful attention to detail in a natural landscape.
However, the painters of the Hudson River School were uniquely American because, unlike European painters, they used nature symbolically to represent Romantic values.
James Fenimore Cooper (The Last Mohican), Washington Irving ("Rip Van Winkle"),
and William Cullen Bryant ("Thanatopsis")
were all aquaintances with Hudson River School artists.
In 1835, the Romantic writer and author of "Rip Van Winkle," bought a two-room Dutch stone house on the banks of the Hudson River. He expanded and remodeled the building, making it more "Romantic" and exotic:
Adding Tudor-style chimneys,
Dutch stepped gables,
and a Spanish tower.
He also made the grounds more picturesque, planting trees, creating hillls, a pond, and a stream with a waterfall.
"Rip Van Winkle"
This American Romantic story takes place before the Revolutionary War in a small town in the Hudson river valley among the Catskill Mountains.
As you read, notice how Washington Irving uses words to paint a picture of the American scenery, in just the same way that the artists of the Hudson River School painted it on canvas.
As you view the following landscapes by painter Thomas Cole, ask yourself these questions:
1. Which details stand out and why?
2. What mood or feeling do these paintings draw from me?
3. What type of story would take place in these settings?