New PAFA exhibit rewrites the history on the origins of landscape art

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The exhibition is called From the Schuylkill to the Hudson: Landscapes of the Early American Republic. and it tells the untold story of Philadelphia's leading role in creating a national school of landscape painting.

"The Hudson River School is a term that was invented in the 1870s to explain a group of American Landscape painters who started working in the mid to late 1820s in New York City," explains Anna Marley, Curator of Historical American Art at PAFA.

It's known as the first school of American Art but it was founded by Thomas Cole.

"Thomas Cole got his training here in Philadelphia," Marley points out.

The exhibition starts with a 1770s painting of the Schuylkill River by Charles Wilson Peale.

"It's a really great start point for the show because it shows a portrait set in a landscape," Marley says.

By the 1800s, landscape artists were painting country homes and industrial landscapes.

"One of the things Philadelphians will recognize in here is Fairmount waterworks," Marley says.

There's a painting called Landscape: Evening by Paul Weber that hasn't been on view for more than 40 years.

"Tucked away in one of our basement vaults," Marley says, with the frame painstakingly restored for this exhibition, "Gilded frame from the 1850s and we have it here."

By the mid-19th century, Hudson school artists were painting large-scale scenes of the beaches and mountains.

"This is the American landscape that most people think about when they think about 19th-century landscape painting," says Hudson.

And the artists traveled the world. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a painting of what is now Colombia by Fredrick Church.

"Just as you go around the corner you see a sunset view on the Schuylkill River," Marley says.

It's a juxtaposition that Marley says was intentional, "so it's sort of like the show coming full circle."

Landscapes of the Early American Republic | Tickets
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
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