Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art to exhibit 19th Century landscape paintings from the New-York Historical Society

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York at New Paltz and the New-York Historical Society will collaborate to organize an exhibit, titled “Views and Visions: The Hudson River to Niagara Falls, 19th Century Landscape Paintings from the New-York Historical Society,” that will be on view at the museum from July to December 2009.

The exhibit was made possible with a $143,449 federal grant from Congressman and New Paltz alumnus Maurice Hinchey (’68, ’70g) and the support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.

Drawn from the permanent collection at the New-York Historical Society, the exhibit will include 45 paintings consisting of landscapes, portraits and maritime scenes. The paintings, which were created between 1818 and 1892, depict generally identifiable landscapes, historic sites, natural wonders, and waterways of New York State from the mouth of the Hudson River north to the Adirondacks and then to the western boundary of the state—Niagara Falls.

“Set in the location where these paintings were inspired, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art is the perfect venue for these extraordinary pieces of art from the Hudson River School movement to be displayed,” Hinchey said. “The Hudson River Valley played a critical role in American art history and now this display at the Samuel Dorsky Museum will enable today’s art enthusiasts, local residents, students and others to enjoy these precious pieces of art, learn about their importance and appreciate the natural beauty that continues to surround us.”

The curator is Dr. Linda Ferber, an internationally renowned expert on 19th Century American art and vice president and museum director of the New-York Historical Society.

The exhibit will be accompanied by the publication of an illustrated scholarly catalog and gallery guide published by the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art. The museum will also sponsor lectures, gallery talks, a public symposium and other educational activities during the five-month exhibition.

The exhibit and accompanying interpretive activities will support community-wide programming developed to commemorate the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial, marking the 400th anniversary of Hudson and Champlain’s voyages along the river and lake that bear their names, and the 200th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s steamboat voyage on the Hudson, which initiated steam commerce on the river.

Neil Trager, director of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, said that the exhibit creates an American grand tour enabling museum visitors to explore themes that illuminate the sites that historically drew both artists and travelers to the region. The exhibit will also investigate landscape imagery as a powerful narrative device that embodies widely held ideas about nature and culture, he said.

A significant number of important landscape paintings by Hudson River School painters such as Albert Bierstadt, John W. Casilear, Thomas Cole, Jasper Cropsey, Asher B. Durand, George Inness and Jervis McEntee are highlights of the exhibition.

“Personally, I am looking forward to having this magnificent collection coming to the Hudson Valley,” said Steven Poskanzer, president of the college. “We are delighted to acknowledge Congressman Hinchey’s role in helping to secure the funding for this major exhibition.”