A Grain of Nature; Something bigger than us

   What is the precise meaning of art? It is an ambiguous question that has no right answer, or does it? Art bears the form of speaking without having to state anything. Its a vital form of communication, prominently in the early 1800s when the sole way for Military and European travelers to display American landscape was through paintings. Pictures were made to persuade and make lasting impressions of the contemporary world. A painting can reveal mood, feelings, aspirations, and much more, but it all depends on the personal interpretation of the observer. Painters can freely capture anything they desire, however it was critical to convey the correct message as art became a distinct symbol that defined countries. As portraits became popular among upper-class wealthy citizens, the theme of man dominating nature became extremely conventional; shown through the ‘Landscaping People’ section, “the landscaped portrait unites man and nature in a setting the human presence dominates and controls.” Especially in a time where America was still finding its identity, did artists really want to be in a country where man was seen as “more substantial” and more “esteemed” than Gods initial creation, the wild? Was the increase in paintings of American landscape just a coincidence or was it to identify America as a country true to its natural values of respect towards Mother Nature as opposed to the Europeans who wilderness had almost vanished? In the online exhibit “The making of the Hudson River School” by the Albany Institution of History and Art, we recognize artists enhancing the view of Americans by revealing the natural beauty around them through art.

  With images of humans being superior to nature, Americas identity becomes frail. For examples in Major Dix‘s self-portrait, the description says he “towers over the landscape.” Its to be seen as a background of his inspiration, but is also viewed as man being bigger than nature, which is not true. It was important for artists to change that persona and identity before it becomes a staple of the culture. The online exhibit continuously presents artists doing all they can to display the worlds natural beauty rather than man being greater than nature.  The “Patrol Scene”, for example, shows a picture of a towering tree with a couple that is drawn small and is obviously not the main focus of the picture. The examples continue with the painting, “Looking towards Troy”, which portrays a beautiful lake with a miniscule image of a man on a horse, “Landscape with a figure on the road carries on the same theme as well as “Camping by Greenwood Lake”. Paintings brought forth the truth of nature. They projected systematic observations of the landscape and displayed the hidden spiritual truths within. The painting “Morning, Looking East over the Hudson Valley from the Catskill Mountains” displays the concept very well as the figure looking over the rigid mountains, “stands mesmerized as if witnessing the creation of the world.” Urban growth continues to separate humans from nature, but through the vivid work of past artistry, its identity will live on forever.

5 thoughts on “A Grain of Nature; Something bigger than us

  1. Josh I really like what you were saying about how art bears the form of speaking without having to state anything. A picture is worth a thousand words. The great thing about art is that when I look at it, it can mean one thing, and when someone else looks at it, it can mean the total opposite. There is no right answer! Art also helps us release feelings that can’t be described and is a good way taking a step back from the pressure of daily life.
    I would agree with you that in Major Dix‘s self-portrait it is supposed to represent man being bigger than nature, and that not being true. I think this is also represented in “Couple in a Mountain Landscape” and “Members of the Nepean Family of St. Just, Cornwall” because the majority of the people in the painting are wearing a vibrant red and attract the attention of the eye. This could have been done so that the viewer is to focus on the people in the painting rather than the beauty of nature. Beside the landscaping portraits I like how throughout the exhibit it emphasizes the allure of nature. More specifically in the Sketch of Lake George the artist draws a beautiful picture of Lake George with a small person riding in the boat. The person looks as if they are taking in the captivating image of the trees and the lake.

  2. During the time of the Hudson River School movement, humans were industrializing and separating themselves from the natural world around them. I agree that the artists of this movement were focused on making sure that people didn’t forget about the beautiful harmony that occurs between humans and nature and that in fact humans are miniscule in the presence of nature. The exhibit explains that “[S]ince the early Renaissance, artists have regularly enhanced portraits with painted landscapes.” In fact by this statement we can see that before the Hudson River School movement, people were mostly focused on enhancing the portraits with the background landscapes. However, by observing many of the paintings from the Hudson River School such as, “Landscape with Figure on Road” or “Sketch of Lake George” the focus is on the landscape and I would argue the focus is also on the harmony between humans and nature. In these paintings rather than the humans being large and the nature being placed in the backgrounds, the people are small and the landscape is the focus of the viewers attention. Like you said, the focus is on world’s natural beauty. To push that thought farther I think that the artists are trying to make sure that mother nature isn’t forgotten through all the industrialization and that nature should remain “a source of national pride and identity.”

    In many of the paintings some artists go even further than the idea that landscapes and nature should not be forgotten. In fact, The Albany Institute of History and Art explained, “Landscape art of the period depicted both the enthusiasm for progress—the harmonious union between man’s developments and nature—and a warning of nature’s fragility.” For example this can be seen in the painting titled “Lake Winnipesaukee.” In the bottom right hand corner, the people are highlighted and surrounded by darkness as well as a dead tree and bare rock. I would argue that the artist had purpose in placing the humans in an area surrounded by darkness and death as humans are the ones responsible for destroying nature, the very thing that creates a peaceful place and welcomes the presence of humans.

  3. Hello. Because nature is the unique treasure given to us by God. The world is very diverse in its natural landscapes. And we, the people, have to preserve it. I love to travel and want to see as many natural wonders as possible. That’s why I chose Business Class Flights to Poland this year. I want to go to the Polish lakes. They say that this is a magical place, especially in spring, when nature wakes up from its winter sleep.

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  5. The online exhibit “Creating the Hudson River School” hosted by the Albany Institute of History and Art made a huge impression on me. I had no interest in art before as I was studying other sciences in college, but I saw a lot of amazing work and learned a lot of new facts. Last semester I wrote my essay on immigration to America in the 19th and 20th centuries https://studyhippo.com/essay-examples/immigration/ I focused on people working in heavy industry and engineers. Among them were many new immigrants who helped our country become a better place. But I didn’t think about the fact that there were also many new artists coming to the country who influenced this sphere of American culture in the past two centuries.