Nature and the American Vision explores and showcases the beauty and vitality of the American landscape, as seen by early settlers and sightseers, in paintings by artists of the Hudson River School. Rising to prominence in New York during the first half of the nineteenth century, this loosely knit group of painters and like—minded poets and writers widely considered the country’s first national artistic movement—undertook grueling expeditions through the Hudson River Valley and beyond to see sites firsthand. They looked to exploration of the natural world as a resource for spiritual renewal and as an expression of cultural and national identity.

With the country expanding and emerging as a world power, painters adopted these subjects in their effort to define a particularly American visual aesthetic. By the mid-1800s, many identified landscape painting with the very qualities they believed made the country exceptional—its topographical diversity, native beauty, and seemingly endless abundance of natural resources. Their reverence for nature, and the often panoramic scale of their paintings, has been credited with spurring both nationalism and preservation movements.