Cover image for Knights of the brush : the Hudson River School and the moral landscape
Knights of the brush : the Hudson River School and the moral landscape
Cooper, James F., 1935-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hudson Hills Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
109 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BJ352 .C66 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This remarkable work of cultural criticism analyses masterpieces of the Hudson River School, America's golden age of landscape painting. Iconic works by Church, Cole, Cropsey, Durand, and others are examined in relation to the religious, moral, and aestethic sensibility that underlies them.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

In these days of sensationalism, the images of the past often seem shadowy and rather vague. This work explores a period in American art and culture when both were infused with a strong sense of righteousness and the certainty that the artist must celebrate nature and the deity. The chapter headings--from "Seeing" to "Virtue," "Chivalry" to "Christendom"--echo the ideas expressed in the paintings, contrasting with what art critic Cooper sees as a cultural crisis in our times. Unfortunately, this work comes across as preachy and sentimental, perhaps because of the zealous morality of the time it examines. Still, the works of art, gathered from a wide variety of holdings, are an excellent record of a splendid age of landscape, and Cooper should be commended for preserving and evaluating these important records of a past era. One could only wish that the sense of moral judgment did not overwhelm the critical eye. Recommended for academic libraries and all libraries focusing on American art history.--Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Ever since Picasso, conservatives have watched the unstoppable tide of modern and postmodern art with dismay. Helpless to intervene, they occasionally proffer written pleas for a return to sanity. Cooper's book is the latest--either a refreshing call for cultural renewal or an antediluvian exercise in naivete, depending on one's viewpoint. It is a curious hybrid: part insightful and sumptuously illustrated thesis on a neglected topic, the Protestant and spiritual basis of Hudson River School painting; part retelling of the recent Culture Wars; and part glossy promotion of the Newington-Cropsey Foundation. Cooper works for this right-leaning arts organization founded by Jasper Cropsey's great-granddaughter, so Cropsey looms large in the book. As with all manifestos, much goes unanswered--including how, exactly, appreciation for Cropsey's aesthetics can rescue us from "the cultural darkness that now covers America." This thesis will strike many academics as ludicrous, running as it does so precisely contrary to the direction of much of today's art history--but therein lies its interest as a corrective. Some general readers, especially, may concur that inspiration can be found in 19th-century art and that a return to conviction and craftsmanship promises a better cultural future. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through professionals. W. B. Maynard; Delaware College of Art and Design