September 22, 2009

Hinchey, Gillibrand Introduce Resolutions Honoring the Hudson River School Painters

Washington, DC -- Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand this week introduced identical resolutions in the House and Senate, recognizing and honoring the painters of the Hudson River School -- a mid-19th century American art movement led by a group of landscape painters, whose aesthetic vision was influenced by the romantic movement.

"The Hudson River School painters helped share the natural beauty of the Hudson River Valley with the rest of the country and the world," Hinchey said. "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.  Given the school's national significance, it's only fitting that we honor the painters of this extraordinary movement in both the House and Senate.  Passage of this resolution will appropriately honor the contributions they made to our country and help gain even more attention for these remarkable pieces of art."

"The artists of the Hudson River School used their skills and vision to highlight the natural beauty and breathtaking scenery of the Hudson River," said Gillibrand. "The paintings inspired by the waters and peaks of the Hudson are among the finest produced by American painters which continue to inspire new generations of artists and draw thousands of visitors to the region.  The resolution recognizes the artistic contribution of the region to the arts in America."

Considered as the first school of American Art, the Hudson River School paintings are renowned for their striking naturalistic landscape and sweeping beauty of the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding New York areas, including the Catskill, Adirondack, and the White Mountains.  The paintings of those landscapes helped influence the environmental conservation movement and the establishment of the national park system under President Theodore Roosevelt.

The major Hudson River School painters included: Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, Asher Brown Durand, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Sanford Robinson Gifford, Albert Bierstadt, John Frederick Kensett, George Inness, Worthington Whittredge, and Thomas Moran.

In addition to natural landscapes, the painters depicted the Hudson River Valley during the opening of the Erie Canal which linked the Hudson River with the Great Lakes, and created a main trade route from New York that fostered the city's central place in the American economy.  The painters helped celebrate the ideals of American democracy, individuality, and progress while illustrating themes such as nature, conservation, civility, unity, education, family, chivalry, and development.

Hinchey recently secured $143,449 in funding from Congress for the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz to host a Hudson River School exhibit that includes a large educational component for area schools, a symposium that brings in national scholars, and a publication.  Funds are also being used for the conservation of the paintings.  Prior to the exhibit opening in July, the museum had approximately 20 visitors each day.  The museum now has 80-100 visitors per day.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is an original cosponsor of the bill in the Senate.  U.S. Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY), John Hall (D-NY), Eric Massa (D-NY), Scott Murphy (D-NY), and José Serrano (D-NY) are original cosponsors in the House.