The Poetry of Nature: Hudson River School Landscapes from the New-York Historical Society

<i>Autumn Woods, Oneida County, State of New York</i>
Albert Bierstadt, Autumn Woods, Oneida County, State of New York, ca. 1886, Oil on linen, New-York Historical Society, Gift of Mrs. Albert Bierstadt, 1910.11


The Poetry of Nature: Hudson River School Landscapes from the New-York Historical Society

Stitzer Family Gallery

A stunning array of over 40 paintings created between 1818 and 1886, The Poetry of Nature illustrates America’s scenic splendor as seen through the eyes of over 25 leading Hudson River School artists, including Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, John F. Kensett, Albert Bierstadt, as well as lesser-known but important artists Josephine Walters, Christopher Pearse Cranch, and Louisa Davis Minot, among others. Its display at the NBMAA will include the addition of works by Robert S. Duncanson, the first Black artist of the Hudson River School to gain international acclaim. Drawn from the collection of the New-York Historical Society, the exhibition explores the exchange of influence among this group of artists, their favored sketching grounds, and the legacy of Hudson River School painting today. 

"We are honored to showcase this spectacular group of Hudson River School masterworks from the New-York Historical Society’s preeminent collection," said Dona Cassella, Chair of the Board of Trustees and Interim Director. "The Poetry of Nature beautifully complements and expands upon our own celebrated collection of 19th-century landscape paintings. Held concurrent to the Bicentennial of Frederic Law Olmsted’s birth, the exhibition will provide a timely opportunity to explore how artists and landscape architects have depicted and shaped the land throughout American history."

The Hudson River School rose to eminence in New York during the first half of the nineteenth century. The growing number of crowded industrial cities in the East gave rise to an appreciation for pictures of the landscape untouched by man. This closely-knit group of artists, together with like-minded poets and writers, forged a self-consciously “American” landscape vision and literary voice. Both were grounded in the exploration of the natural world as a rouse for spiritual renewal and as an expression of cultural and national identity. The Hudson River and the varied scenery along its banks provided the subjects for many of their landscape paintings. The Poetry of Nature looks in-depth at depictions of the Northeast and New England.

In the context of this exhibition, the NBMAA will highlight contemporary perspectives on land use, the environment, and landscape painting in America through related programming, and by welcoming contemporary artists and scholars to reflect upon the legacy of the Hudson River School and what it means within our world today. Additionally, the exhibition will take place concurrent to the Bicentennial of Frederick Law Olmsted’s birth (April 2022), and will provide a rich platform for programming that will further explore how artists and landscape architects depicted and shaped the American landscape in the 1800s.

The New Britain Museum of American Art’s Hudson River School holdings are rich and beloved by members and visitors alike. The Poetry of Nature will be complemented by highlights in the Henry and Sharon Martin Gallery such as Thomas Cole The Cove, Catskills; Frederic Edwin Church West Rock, New Haven, and Asher Brown Durand’s Sunday Morning.

The exhibition has been organized by the New-York Historical Society, which features one of the most renowned collections of Hudson River School paintings. Dr. Linda S. Ferber, the director emerita of New-York Historical’s Museum and a leading authority on Hudson River School artists, is the curator for this extraordinary exhibition.

About the New-York Historical Society

New York City’s first museum, the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library was founded in 1804. The Patricia D. Klingenstein Library—one of the most distinguished in the nation—fosters research through its outstanding collections, which include more than 10 million items. The Museum presents groundbreaking history and art exhibitions as well as public programs that convey the stories of New York and the nation’s diverse populations to the broadest possible public. Learn more at


January 27, 5:30-8 p.m.

In lieu of a traditional exhibition opening celebration, we would like to welcome all Museum Members to have early access to the show on Thursday, January 27, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be no formal remarks or refreshments this time around as we navigate the current COVID spike.

Please stop by the Museum on the 27th to enjoy a self-guided viewing of the show.

Related Programming will support learning about the importance of environmental stewardship, ecology, and access to land. Health, wellness, nature.

KEYNOTE | Betsy Kornhauser

January 30, 3 p.m.

LECTURE | Catharine Rogers Distinguished Lecturer Charles Button Climate Change Update 

Thursday, February 10, 6-7 p.m.

AMERICAN EDEN | Victoria Johnson on David Hosack, Nature, and Art in the Garden of the Early Republic

February 27, 3 p.m.

LECTURE | Charles Button on Connecticut Agriculture

Thursday, March 10, 6-7 p.m.

DOCENT-LED GALLERY TALK - ARTISTS & WRITERS | Poetry in Nature: The Hudson River School Artists and Nineteenth Century American Writers

March 16, April 6, May 11 at 1 p.m. (note: some of these dates have sold out)

Docent Carol Lacoss will show the ways painters and writers used images of nature to create an artistic vision of nineteenth century America.

Register here.

LECTURE | Old Objects and New Audiences: The Hudson River School Today with William Coleman

March 20, 3 p.m.

Hudson Talbott Reading and Book Signing

Tuesday, April 12

A Day of Learning/Symposium | The Olmsted Legacy

April 20
Annotated Resource List About Frederick Law Olmsted and the Olmsted Legacy

FILM | Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America

April 22, 1 p.m.

Register here.

Artful Science Experience | Landscape Art as Science with Linda Tomasso

May 1, 3 p.m.

Register here.


• Presentations by New Britain ROOTS on Gardening, Soil Testing, Seed Saving, and Healthy Cooking

• Virtual Slow Art


• Plein Air Painting Workshops

• Sculpture and Sketching in Walnut Hill Park

• From the Earth: Working with Clay

• Landscape Collage: The Poetry of Spring Garden

• Landscape and Nature Prints | Monotype Workshop with Kasey Ramirez


• Family Guides

• April vacation programs

• April 16 - Family Earth and Arts Festival

• Studio@4 classes


Docent-Led Highlight Tours

Weekly: Sundays 1 p.m., select Thursdays 6 p.m.



Featured Press

Awakening the Senses: Hudson River School landscapes captivate in a traveling exhibition on view now at the New Britain Museum of American Art
American Fine Art Magazine
, March/April 2022 Edition  pdf

10 events to visit in Connecticut this March
By Paul Joseph, New England Magazine, February 22, 2022

Intimate, expressive: Hudson River School shows elegiac, poetic touch in New Britain
By Tracey O'Shaughnessy, Republican-American, February 19, 2022

Things to do in Connecticut this week (Jan. 27–Feb. 2)
By Patricia LaPietra, Connecticut Magazine, January 26, 2022

Hudson River School Landscapes On View Alongside Frederick Law Olmsted Bicentennial Events
Art Fix Daily, January 18, 2022

View of the Frederick Law Olmsted Bicentennial Events as well as Hudson River School Landscapes
Darik.News | Connecticut News, January 18, 2022


    This exhibition has been organized by the New-York Historical Society.

    This exhibition has been generously supported by the Kathryn Cox Special Exhibitions Fund. Additional support provided by the Bailey Family Fund for Special Exhibitions and Special Exhibition Fund donors Marian and Russell Burke and John N. Howard.

    The Poetry of Nature programs are made possible by John M. & Saundra L. Jezowski, The Tomasso Family in memory of Jim Tomasso, and Connecticut Humanities. Additional support for programs is provided by Sharon and Dave Jepson, Allison and Jay Bombara, Dona and Michael Cassella, Kelly and Jonathan Jarvis, and Ken Carifa and Mark Garavel.

    Generous in-kind support from Thomas Mach Interiors.