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The Heart of the Andes, by Frederick Edwin Church

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Heart of the Andes is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum

Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1926, Frederick Edwin Church was a famous American landscape painter whose vision and talent contribute to his place within the pantheon of Hudson Valley School of Art painters. Known for painting large-scale landscape paintings, Church’s masterpieces typically contained dramatic settings which are evident in his paintings The Parthenon, Twilight in the Wilderness, or Our Banner in the Sky. These famous paintings often featured beautiful scenic mountains, waterfalls, or sunsets, which gave each of his works a different vibe and feeling, however all of these paintings pale in comparison to The Heart of the Andes.

Church’s most famed piece of work, The Heart of the Andes, was painted in 1859 and its medium is oil on canvas. This scenic landscape painting is about 5′ 6″ x 9′ 11″ and displays the beauty and grandeur of the South American Mountain range.[1] While some of Church’s paintings feature wide brushstrokes with sweeping colors, The Heart of the Andes is a more intricately detailed piece, as the entire painting is incredibly realistic. This painting features a waterfall scene in front of the majestic Andes Mountains with a small, almost unnoticeable village at the foot of the mountains. This painting’s color scheme seems to consist of mainly earthy tones as it is a realistic landscape painting, however it also features a few pops of color which draws the onlooker’s eyes to different points. One of these color pops would be the bright red shirt and the blue jacket of two people standing in front of a cross, which guides our attention to the small religious symbol, while another would be the red and blue flowers located on the lower right side of the painting which allows our eyes to fall upon the extremely detailed foreground.

By using small pops of color Church is able to draw onlooker’s focus into certain parts of his painting, and he does this intentionally as a way to get certain messages across. This particular painting seems to play with the theme of religion as it features a cross, which is either a grave or shrine. In addition to this small symbol of Christianity, Church’s painting depicts the beauty of nature when it is untouched by man, and because of this it pays tribute to God’s awesome creation. This painting, aside from a small town nestled in the center and the two people kneeling by the cross, is free of human influence and therefore displays nature in its raw form. That being said, while there are two people featured in this piece of artwork, they obviously are not the focal point of this piece as they are minuscule in comparison to the grand natural features that surround them. In this way, Church demonstrates that while people exist and are important, we pale in comparison to God’s handiwork.

In addition to depicting religious undertones, Church’s painting also presents a nationalistic view of the Americas. By painting the beauty that surrounds anyone lucky enough to reside in either of the New World, Church is able to proudly show off the awesomeness of this “new” land. This almost 10 foot long painting showed the impressive dramatic landscapes that made up the America’s, and because of this many who look upon Church’s painting feel a sense of pride in the Americas as they look on in awe at the natural beauty of their land.

The Heart of the Andes makes onlookers feel as if they are gazing out a window onto this magnificent scene, and because of this, this piece of art gives off a peaceful and serene vibe. The light reflecting off the water gives the appearance of a new day beginning and fills with me a hopeful feeling, and because of this I can see the allure this of this painting and why it is arguably Church’s most famous piece. Members of the Hudson Valley School of Art depicted the beauty of the world around them with their unique paintings, and Frederick Edwin Church’s Heart of the Andes perfectly displays these ideals.

– Debbie Boerke

[1] “Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), Birthday May 4 – Wolf Fine Art – Colorado Springs.” Wolf Fine Art Colorado Springs RSS. 2012. Accessed November 01, 2016.

Titan’s Goblet, by Thomas Cole

Henry David Thoreau once said, “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” An American artist known for his historical landscape paintings, Thomas Cole, was seen as the founder of the Hudson River School, an art movement that prospered in the middle of the 19th century. Cole’s artwork is well known for its romantic representation of the American wilderness. Possibly the most mysterious of Cole’s metaphorical or fictional landscape scenes was The Titan’s Goblet which was painted in 1833. Often times, Cole would supply writing to support his paintings; however, he decided not to comment on this piece which left his intentions open for debate.

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Titans Goblet is a work that “defies full explanation.”[1] Many have called this work a picture within a picture and a landscape within a landscape: the goblet sits on traditional terrain, but its occupants reside along the rim in their very own world. The entire brim is slathered in vegetation, separated by only two small buildings, an Italian palace, and a Geek temple. The deep waters are spotted with sailing boats and as it leaks onto the ground underneath, grass and a more fundamental civilization spring up.

Theophilus Stringfellow, Jr. described it as a “self-contained, microcosmic human world in the midst of vast nature,” while John M. Falconer connected the “monumental stem of the goblet to the trunk of the Norse world tree; he likened the cup to the ramifying branches . . . Which spread out and hold between them an ocean dotted with sails, surrounded by dense forests and plains.”[2]

As previously mentioned, various theories and themes have been argued throughout the years on what Coles true intentions are in The Titan’s Goblet. Around the 1880s, one understanding linked the goblet to the world tree and particularly to the Norse mythology’s very own Yggdrasil. A 1904 catalog carried out this theory, saying that “the spiritual idea in the center of the painting, conveying the beautiful Norse theory that life and the world is but a tree with ramifying branches, is carefully carried out by the painter”[3]. However, it is not evident that Cole would have been accustomed to this notion, and detractor Elwood Parry proposed that the probability to any legendary tree is restricted to the equivalence of the goblet’s stem to a tree trunk. With that being said, nothing about the cup compares to roots or branches.

Another hypothesis of this work advocates that the goblet’s supremacy in the picture might indicate a cosmological explanation. Elwood Parry contemplates but declines a correlation with the outside panels of the Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch, which are typically taken to represent Earth’s creation. Both of the pictures illustrate a restrained world but use land and water in contradicting fractions. The Goblet provides neither iconography nor an engraving that would declare a theological exposition of the painting. Moreover, the artist has positioned the goblet far off from the heart of the canvas, therefore, minimizing its symbolic importance.

A companion and biographer of Thomas Cole, Louis Legrand Noble was highly relied on to have some insight or explanation on the work. However, according to his comments, there is no statement for any of these ideas. He wrote,

“There [the goblet] stands, rather reposes upon its shaft, a tower-like mossy
structure, light as a bubble, and yet a section of a substantial globe. As the eye circles
its wide rolling brim, a circumference of many miles, it finds itself in fairy land; in
accordance though with nature on her broadest scale… Tourists might travel in the
countries of this imperial ring, and trace their fancies on many a romantic page.
Here steeped in the golden splendors of a summer sunset, is a little sea from Greece,
or Holy Land, with Greek and Syrian life, Greek and Syrian nature looking out upon
its quiet waters.”[4]

So, after witnessing and learning about the various types of theories that were presented for Thomas Cole’s The Titan’s Goblet, one can clearly gather that it has its own unique meaning for each person that may come across it whether it be due to religion, others’ opinions, or ones own thoughts. Although researchers believed that a good friend and columnist of Thomas Cole such as Noble would have some positive insight toward the subject, his answer just goes to show that everyone has their own perspective toward certain questions.

  • Connor Kearney, Marist College

[1] “Thomas Cole | The Titan’s Goblet | The Met.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I.e. The Met Museum. Accessed October 25, 2016. http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/10499.

[2] “Thomas Cole | The Titan’s Goblet | The Met.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I.e. The Met Museum. Accessed October 25, 2016. http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/10499.

[3] Perry, Elwood C. “Thomas Cole’s ‘The Titan’s Goblet’: A Reinterpretation.” Metmuseum.org. 1971. Accessed November 1, 2016. http://www.metmuseum.org/publications/journals/1/pdf/1512618.pdf.bannered.pdf.

[4] Perry, Elwood C. “Thomas Cole’s ‘The Titan’s Goblet’: A Reinterpretation.” Metmuseum.org. 1971. Accessed November 1, 2016. http://www.metmuseum.org/publications/journals/1/pdf/1512618.pdf.bannered.pdf.

Students respond to the original “Wappinger Warriors” and the “Mob Men of Dutchess County”

On October 6th 2016, the Hudson River Valley Institute hosted the 5th annual Handel-Krom lecture at Marist College. This year the speaker was local historian to Vassar College Dr. James Merrell. This blog presents the reactions of two students of New York State history who attended.

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Historic marker in Kent, NY. Image courtesy of Highlands Historic Preservation

 Anisha Agarwal:

James Merrell, History professor at Vassar College, presented a lecture at Marist College for the Fifth annual Handel-Krom Lecture in Hudson River History last Thursday, October 6, 2016. His lecture was based on his studies of local Native Americans in the early colonial era. His lecture included just the right amount of humor to bring these historic facts out of the books and into our minds. His enthusiasm on the matter of relationships between Native Americans and the colonials sparked an interest in even students who do not major in History. I have an increased awareness of the realities Native Americans faced with the establishment of New York State. In my opinion, a history textbook cannot give you the same experience that a lecture can. Being able to hear, see, and imagine life of the colonials and Natives gave me a higher understanding of what really went on during the 1700’s in the Hudson Valley. I applaud Merrill’s use of descriptive sensory terms in that his lecture accurately portrayed the realities that a textbook will fail to mention. I look forward to attending another lecture by Merrell. I believe that in order to understand the present day world around us, we must look to history to help explain the reasoning of why things are the way they are.

 Diana Perez-Amigon:

On October 6, Marist College hosted Dr. James Merrell for the Fifth Annual Handel-Krom Lecture in Hudson River History. Professor’s James Merrell lecture was called “Mob Men” & Wappinger Warriors: Revisiting the Battle for Dutchess County, 1766.” One of his upcoming books will focus on the tensions between Native Americans and the settlers in the Mid-Hudson Valley in the late colonial era. In this post, I will be discussing two factors that stood out from Dr. James’ lecture.

In the Fall of 1763, there was a petition going around to tenants on large local farms that  addressed the fact that they were farming on lands they didn’t own, but have worked on  over many years, even generations. This seems to have led some to feel a sense of ownership on those lands.  As such, an angry mob gathered to get control or possession of the land. As these men started to form as a group, there were certain men that wanted to take control of these group of men. As a matter of fact, this group of men came to be named as the “Mob Men”. One striking example was when in November of 1763, James Covey Jr was one who was taken out of his house by his own father for supporting the Mob Men movement.

The other point of note from Merrell’s lecture that caught my attention was his discussion on the local native peoples and how they fit into this movement. In 1765, a delegation of local Indians, and a tenant farmer, tried to convince the government in New York City that there was no one person who paid for their land. However things didn’t work out so well for them. They were told that if they were to continue to pursue this theory, that they were going to get thrown into jail. Despite the potential consequences of continuation, the farmer would not halt his course of action. However this did not end well for him. He was later on thrown into jail for stirring trouble among the natives.

Dr. James Merrell’s lecture was very interesting and thought provoking. Especially so because he engaged the audience with funny jokes or connect the past to something that is related or similar to today.  I was particularly interested in his discussion on how the Dutchess County became to exist. The way his lecture was delivered made it more engaging and had the audience very attentive.

Dr. Merrell’s presence at Marist College was an honor and it was a pleasure to hear his lecture.

Visit the Hudson River Valley Institute website and blog for more upcoming events. They are always free and open to the public.

Jasper Francis Cropsey’s Spirit of War

 Jasper Francis Cropsey was a painter in the late 1800s who created works based off English and American landscapes, scenery and landmarks.  One of his most popular pieces was titled The Spirit of War created in 1851.  It was part of a two piece collection the other painting was called The Spirit of Peace.  This work was the exact opposite and counterpart of The Spirit of War displaying the two very different sides that split the country’s feelings towards war.  Some of this painting’s characteristics are: the  dimensions being 3’ 8” x 5’ 8” it is an oil painting supported on a canvas in the landscape genre.  Jasper Francis Cropsey created this painting to display swirling dark clouds, the looming castle on the jagged rocks, and soldiers riding on horseback into battle.

Jasper Francis Cropsey’s painting The Spirit of War gives viewers the immediate feeling of stress and angst for the battle awaiting beyond the dark, looming castle.  This piece of art was created to remind its viewers of the foundational tensions experienced in mid19th Century America with war and depression looming over the country like a specter.  Jasper Francis Cropsey describes this painting himself as “promising naught but the uncertain and gloomy future of warlike times.”[1]  He gave a distinct eerie feeling of war with the dark colored shadows and jagged rocks, there are even soldiers clearly painted on horseback heading up into the looming castle touching the dark clouds, symbolizing their march into battle.  The war that specifically struck a chord of memory with spectators was the one that had just finished, the Mexican War.

This painting was created in the few years directly after the Mexican War which occurred from April 25, 1846 to February 2, 1848.  This war began with the president of the time James K. Polk, believing that the United States had a “manifest destiny”. By this he meant that the United States had the right and was justified in spreading and expanding across North America all the way to the Pacific Ocean.  Fighting was stopped, on Feb. 2, 1848, when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was finally signed thus, ending the war once and for all.  However, by this point the United States had taken almost all of present-day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico from Mexico, which was about one-third of its territory.  Leaving the United States in a time of tension that was being felt across the nation.  This tension was due to the fact that even though the war was technically over, there was still an impending uneasiness on whether the western territories would be free or slave states.

This work of art painted by Jasper Francis Cropsey did a wonderfully perfect job of capturing how people felt in the aftermath of a difficult war.  It was admired by many and since received great critique such as: “the earnest young artist created a powerful and lasting image of the fear and hopelessness brought about by war, eerily foreshadowing the bloody conflict that would envelop his country in the following decade.” [2]

– Meghan La Guardia, Marist College

[1] “The Spirit of War.” Art Object Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016. Retrieved from http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.56598.html

[2] ibid

The Hudson River Valley Review Autumn 2016 Issue

Out now!

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Articles in the Autumn 2016 issue:

Re-Imagining American Indians: Tourism in Greene County, 1958-2000, Laurence Marc Hauptman

Extracting the Truth from the Trade: The Delano Family at Home and in China, Shannon Butler

Pictorial Essay

The Carriage “Outlives the Noble Load it Bore”: General Peter Gansevoort’s Phaeton Survives the Centuries, Warren Broderick

Notes and Documents

Thomas Benjamin Pope: Landscapes of Newburgh and Beyond, Chloe DeRocker

The Wetlands of New Netherland, Chelsea Teale

+  New & Noteworthy titles and full book reviews

     The diverse articles in this issue literally span the ages—ranging from a discussion of wetlands in seventeenth-century New Netherland to Native American-themed tourism in Greene County in the twentieth. However, the essays have one thing in common: They shine light on interesting aspects of Hudson River Valley history that have been given scant attention or completely ignored. Together, they also illustrate the various ingenious ways historians can go about decoding and/or preserving the past, examining a single object, poring through voluminous archives, building upon one’s firsthand knowledge.

Who would have suspected that the Wild West Show might lead to a redefinition and reemergence of Native American culture? Or that any carriage, no matter how noble, would survive the centuries while also being immortalized in prose, paint, and film? And while we cannot doubt the innumerable unknown local heroes and individuals of significance that never make it into “big” history books, we can still be delighted to learn about a Newburgh artist, author, and businessman largely unknown today who was highly regarded in his lifetime. It is the curiosity and persistence of our authors, as well as the occasional coincidence, that combine to make this a most insightful and informative issue.

You can preview the issue and read the Regional History Forum, Book Reviews, and New and Noteworthy Books online at: http://www.hudsonrivervalley.org/review/.

The Hudson River Valley Review is available at select booksellers and museum giftshops throughout the region for $15.00 each. Subscriptions are available through the website at: http://www.hudsonrivervalley.org/review/subscribe.html, or by calling 845-575-3052. A one-year subscription (two issues) is $20.00, save even more by subscribing for two years at $35.00.

The Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College is the center for the study and promotion of the Hudson River Valley, providing information about the region’s history, culture, economy, and environment, and educational resources to teachers, students, and others through www.hudsonrivervalley.org, public programming, and The Hudson River Valley Review. This biannual journal covers all aspects of regional history. All articles in The Hudson River Valley Review undergo peer analysis.

“Mob Men” and Wappinger Warriors: Revisiting the Battle for Dutchess County, 1766

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Fifth Annual Handel-Krom Lecture in Hudson River Valley History

“Mob Men” and Wappinger Warriors: Revisiting the Battle for Dutchess County, 1766

Dr. James H. Merrell is the Lucy Maynard Salmon Professor of History at Vassar College.  His preeminent works are Into the American Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier (W.W. Norton, 1999) and The Indians’ New World: Catawbas and Their Neighbors from European Contact through the Era of Removal (University of North Carolina Press, 1989).  His current book project focuses on Native-American and colonial American land battles in the Mid-Hudson Valley during the late colonial era.  Dr. Merrell was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1990 and a two-time winner of the Bancroft Prize for his works in early American history.

The Handel-Krom Lecture Series in Hudson River Valley History was established through the generosity of community leaders Bernard and Shirley Handel and Lieutenant Colonel Gilbert A. Krom, US Army, Retired to promote knowledge and appreciation for the rich history of this unique and important region of America.

Meet the Intern: Sarah Galante

My name is Sarah Galante and I am a resident of Beacon, New York. I have lived here my whole life and enjoy taking in the beauty of the Hudson River Valley. I am a graduate of the Our Lady of Lourdes Class of 2015, located in Poughkeepsie, New York. In addition, I graduated as a member of the National Honor Society. As of right now I am going into my sophomore year at Marist College. I am a Psychology/ Special Education major with a minor in music. In regards to campus activates, I am a member of the  National Society of Leadership and S

uccess, the Marist College band, Dance Ensemble, and Teachers of Tomorrow. Starting over the past summer, I have been working at the Hudson River Valley Institute on a variety of projects as well as keeping social media up to date for the institute.

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Intern Sarah Galante at the Roundhouse on Fishkill Creek.

In my free time I like to dance, play my flute or piano, or read. Since the age of five, I have been studying at Yanarella School of Dance in Beacon. I have taken classes in tap, jazz, hip hop, modern, ballet, and an additional class called “Workshop”, which is a class for advanced students who take the core classes such as ballet, tap, and jazz. This is a class constructed around the interests of the students where they can pick the songs and dance styles that they prefer. I also competed with my dance studio for two years at the annual National Association of Dance and Affiliated Arts (NADAA) Competition. Aside from dancing, I have been playing the flute since the age of eight and I am continuing my studies through college. Throughout high school, I played in the Wind Ensemble band which, is the honors level band, and was a section leader for two years. In addition, I also was a member of the orchestra which accompanied the cast of the Our Lady of Lourdes Theatre Company in their spring musical productions. In the past year, I have started to teach myself piano using basic information books and online tutorials.

After college, I plan to start teaching elementary students, either third or fourth grade. I will also continue on to get my Masters in Education and a Masters in Music Education at some point. My ultimate goal when applying to college was to go straight into a music program and only be certified to teach music. However, after seeing how cut throat the music world was, I decided that it would be best to teach general education in the meantime.