Forest Cathedrals: “The Hidden Glory” of Hudson River Landscapes


This presentation analyses masterpieces of Hudson River School landscape painting within relevant religious, artistic, and literary contexts. The Hudson River School, America’s first indigenous art movement, included Thomas Cole, Asher Brown Durand, Frederic Edwin Church and George Inness. The artists reflected various religious and spiritual traditions, including the Anglican (Episcopal) and Presbyterian faiths, Swedenborgian theology and Transcendentalism. The presentation rediscovers significant spiritual meaning within recurring visual motifs, specifically tree arches and forest cathedrals. The motifs illustrate themes that captured the imagination of nineteenth-century America, such as the 'sublime wilderness' and 'divine nature'. Viewing these major landscape paintings from wider perspectives contributes to critical religious and socio-cultural discourses.

Author Information
James Ellis, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

Paper Information
Conference: ACERP2020
Stream: Religion – Mysticism

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon