The Dorsky Museum announces Jervis McEntee: Painter-Poet of the Hudson River School

Jervis McEntee View on the Hudson Near the Rondout, n.d. Oil on canvas 25 x 50 in. Collection of Richard Sharp
Jervis McEntee, View on the Hudson Near the Rondout, n.d., Oil on canvas, 25 x 50 in., Collection of Richard Sharp

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz is delighted to present Jervis McEntee: Painter-Poet of the Hudson River School, the first museum retrospective of McEntee’s 40-year career.

Organized by independent curator and scholar Lee A. Vedder, Ph.D., Jervis McEntee will be on display at The Dorsky Museum from Aug. 26 through Dec. 13 in the museum’s Morgan Anderson, Howard Greenberg Family, and Corridor Galleries. The public opening reception is Saturday, Sept. 12, from 5–7 p.m.

The exhibition, consisting of approximately 80 paintings and works on paper borrowed from more than 30 private and public collections, seeks to redefine McEntee’s place in the history of 19th-century American landscape painting.

While most of the Hudson River School painters came from beyond its riverbanks, McEntee (1828–1891) was born and died in Rondout, N.Y., (later named Kingston), on the Hudson’s west bank. He devoted the major part of his energies to painting the nuances of the local landscape in and around the Hudson Valley and nearby Catskills. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue will present McEntee’s art in the context of his aesthetic and poetic temperament, and his relations to a close circle of artist friends, which included architect Calvert Vaux, poet William Cullen Bryant, and fellow landscape painters Frederic Church, Sanford Gifford, John F. Weir, and Worthington Whittredge.

The stylistic range and aesthetic quality of the paintings and drawings in the exhibition demonstrate that McEntee set his own course, absorbing influences of his fellow Hudson River School painters while also responding to the atmospheric painting of J.M.W. Turner, the trauma of the Civil War, and the shifts in American taste to French Barbizon painting and Impressionism.

The exhibition includes works that cover the sweep of McEntee’s career, from his descriptive local landscape paintings of the 1850s to his nearly impressionist works of the 1880s. A significant number of major canvases demonstrate McEntee’s special infatuation with late fall, a time of repose in nature. Panoramic landscapes and intimate scenes of trees and creeks show the range and passion that McEntee brought to documenting the moods and vistas of his beloved Catskills and Hudson Valley. McEntee also traveled widely. Works in the exhibition include a painting made in Nevada in 1881, an informal scene of Frederic Church’s camping party in Maine in 1879, and a group of paintings, plein air oil sketches, and a sketchbook made during McEntee’s travels in Italy in 1868–69. The exhibition presents the full scope of McEntee’s creative output, revealing how he developed compositions from pencil drawings to oil sketches to finished paintings.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 130-page catalogue which presents new scholarship and color reproductions. The three scholarly essays are by exhibition curator Lee A. Vedder; Kerry Dean Carso, a scholar of the historic Hudson Valley and professor at SUNY New Paltz; and American studies professor David Schuyler, the leading historian on McEntee. The catalogue also includes reprints of key texts from the rare memorial publication Jervis McEntee: American Landscape Painter (1892). There will be over 50 color plates.

The time is long overdue for a reappraisal of this fascinating artist who played such a pivotal role in the art world of his day. Since his Memorial Exhibition in 1891, there have been several important efforts in this direction sponsored by commercial galleries, but there has never been a monographic exhibition of his paintings organized by a museum.

Lenders to the exhibition include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, Birmingham Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, New-York Historical Society, Yale University Art Gallery, and other important public and private collections.

Funding for Jervis McEntee is provided by the Friends of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art and SUNY New Paltz. Additional major funding for the exhibition and catalogue has been provided by the Malka Fund, Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, and the James and Mary Ottaway Hudson River Catalog Endowment.

A related exhibition, Jervis McEntee: Kingston’s Artist of the Hudson River School, organized by the Friends of Historic Kingston, is on view in its gallery at the corner of Wall and Main Streets in Kingston’s Stockade District. The exhibition is open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Oct. 31, 2015.

The Dorsky has organized a variety of gallery talks, scholarly lectures, and hands-on activities to allow audiences to engage with different facets of the legacy of Jervis McEntee. These programs have been developed in cooperation with Friends of Historic Kingston, the Mid-Hudson Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club, and Olana State Historical Site.

All events take place at The Dorsky Museum unless otherwise noted.

Sunday, Sept. 13, 2 p.m.
Panel: “Jervis McEntee: Painter-Poet of the Hudson River School” with Curator Lee A. Vedder, Historian David P. Schuyler and SUNY New Paltz Professor Kerry Dean Carso. Moderated by SUNY New Paltz Professor Emeritus William Rhoads. Co-sponsored by Friends of Historic Kingston.
Student Union Building room 62/63

Friday, Oct. 2
1 p.m.:
Presentation: “The Hudson River School of Art: Paintings, Painters, Period, and Places,” with Skip Doyle. Student Union Building room 418.

3 p.m.: Gallery talk: Jervis McEntee exhibition tour, with Guest Educator Kevin Cook. Co-sponsored by the Mid-Hudson Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club.

Saturday, Oct. 3, 2 p.m.
Gallery talk: “Autumn Airs: The Landscapes of Jervis McEntee.”Dr. Kevin J. Avery, Senior Research Scholar at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, will address McEntee’s aesthetic and status among his fellow Hudson River School painters, especially Sanford Gifford, Worthington Whittredge, and Frederic Church, as well as the effect on him of the genre painter Eastman Johnson. Co-sponsored by Olana State Historical Site.

Saturday, Oct. 17, 2:30 p.m.
Plein air painting with Guest Educator and Artist Kevin Cook. Limit 15 participants, $20 fee, RSVP to

Saturday, Nov.14, 2:30 p.m.
Gallery sketching with Guest Educator and Artist Kevin Cook. Limit 15 participants, $10 fee, RSVP to

Visit The Dorsky’s website at for information and updates.

Lee A. Vedder, Ph.D., an independent curator, art historian and museum consultant, holds a doctoral degree in art history from the University of Maryland, specializing in American and British art, pre-1945. With over twenty years of curatorial and museum experience, she has served as Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pa., and has also held curatorial positions and research fellowships in American art at the New-York Historical Society, New York City; The Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Cedar Grove, Catskill, N.Y.; the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, San Marino California; the Terra Foundation for the Arts Musée d’Art Américan, Giverny, France; and at the National Gallery of Art, National Portrait Gallery, and Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

Through its collections, exhibitions, and public programs, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, located at SUNY New Paltz, supports and enriches the academic programs at the college, presents a broad range of world art for study and enjoyment, and serves as a center for Hudson Valley arts and culture. The museum is gaining wide recognition as the premier public showplace for exhibition, education, and cultural scholarship about the Hudson Valley region’s art and artists from yesterday and today. With more than 9,000 square feet of exhibition space distributed over six galleries, The Dorsky Museum is one of the largest museums within the SUNY system. The Dorsky was officially dedicated on Oct. 20, 2001. Since then it has presented over one hundred exhibitions, including commissions, collection-based projects, and in-depth studies of contemporary artists including Robert Morris, Alice Neel, Judy Pfaff, Carolee Schneemann, and Ushio Shinohara.

Museum Hours:
Wednesday–Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Mondays, Tuesdays, Holidays, and Intersessions

For more information about The Dorsky Museum and its programs, visit or call (845) 257-3844.