The Forgotten Women of the Hudson River School of Art

I love stories about intrepid women who defied all odds to achieve their dreams. The women who belonged to the Hudson River School of Art can be seen in this light. In 2010 a small exhibition Remember the Ladies: Women of the Hudson River School held in upstate New York, featured works by fourteen of these women. Let’s meet some of them and learn a little about their work which according to the exhibition captured the beauty, awe and majesty of the natural landscape.

Susie Barstow was definitely intrepid. She climbed the peaks of the Adirondacks, the Catskills and the White Mountains in order to sketch and paint the scenery sometimes, according to my reading, even in a snow storm and up to 25 miles a day!! The first of these paintings is Woodland Interior painted in 1865. You can feel the sense of peace in the painting and acknowledge its cathedral like structure especially with the light penetrating through the branches. Please note that some sites have this painting attributed to Josephine Walters (see below).
Sorry, but I couldn't find a title for this one but love the contrast between the subtle use of colour and light against the strikingly purple mountain and pine green trees.

Edith Wilkinson Cook I could only find this one painting for Edith Cook titled Golden Landscape.

Julia Hart Beers whose brothers William and James Hart were also members of the Hudson River school. She led sketching expeditions in the Hudson Valley region before moving to a New York City art studio with her daughters.I really like this first painting though it remains untitled. Here we see the influence of the English artists John Constable and JMW Turner which was considerable on the group.
And she did many paintings similar to this one- Birch Trees by the River.

Evelina (Nina) Mount whose uncle William Sidney Mount was a genre artist but not a member of the Hudson River school though Nina was. Several members of her family were painters. Her style is a complete break away from what was being produced by other members of the group. This last painting is The Mount House from the Rear.

Eliza Pratt Greatorex was Irish-born and was the second woman elected to the National Academy of Design, Eliza painted both in the style of the Hudson River School showing the influence of Constable and Turner as in this example. But she also produced many pen and ink drawings as shown here in Looking Out, Cheyenne Canyon.

Harriet Cany Peale married the portrait artist and her teacher Rembrandt Peale. She continued to exhibit after her marriage. Her style was somewhat different to others in the school employing a portrait style while at the same time utilising dramatic lighting effects.

I have used a slice from one of her still life paintings for the Hero image in today's blog.

Josephine Walters was a student of Asher B. Durand one of the original Hudson River School Group.

Sarah Cole who was Thomas Cole’s sister went for the dramatic approach associated with the school. Her daughter Emily Cole was also a painter but I haven't been able to locate any images of her paintings.

Besides the artists listed above there were many women artists who were members of the Hudson River School or closely associated with it. Included are: Mary Blood Mellen who was a student of and collaborator with the luminist Fitz H. Lane but not a member of the Hudson River School; Charlotte Buell Coman friends with George Inness and Alexander Wyant both closely associated with the Hudson River style; Jane Stuart daughter of the early American portrait painter Gilbert Stuart; Elizabeth Jeromeand Laura Woodward

I hope these women will now be remembered not only because they had the courage to venture out into the wilderness to paint but because their works are equal to those produced by the male artists.

We have to hurry to catch a plane because tomorrow we have an appointment with some of our favourite painters from the Australian Heidelberg School and those that followed in the footsteps they left in the sand around Port Phillip Bay.

Anne Newman

Oil Painter in realistic genre style, predominantly buildings and people. To continue the discussion contact Anne on or phone +61 407 516 522

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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