Rocky mountain school of painting

DEFINITION

Essentially the Hudson River School of painting in the West. Exponents, many of them Hudson River School painters from the East, depicted panoramic views and naturalist subject matter, using luminous, tonalist and tonalist-impressionist styles. (It is interesting that leading painters of the Rocky Mountain School, Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran were foreign born, and leaders of the Hudson River School were American born. (Flexner 242) The focus of the Rocky Mountain painters was on the grandeur of the natural environment, often dramatic mountain vistas seen from afar. The time period was the turn of the 19th into several decades of the 20th Century. However, in the mind of some art historians, the School is not considered as successful in terms of long-range scholarly interest because the Rocky Mountain group tried to copy the Hudson River School approach of depicting realistic details in an environment that was rugged and not conducive to detailed, 'accurate' depiction. Bierstadt was the pioneer among these painters, and in 1859, he first went West with the Lander Expedition, headed by Frederic Lander, bron 1822. He was engineering an emigrant trail through the Wind River range in Nebraska and Oregon Territory. It is thought this expedition, which left from St. Louis, Missiouri, was the "Premier visual outing of the pre-Civil War trans-Mississppi West. Also included were painters Francis Seth Smith and Henry Hitchings. Other names associated with the Rocky Mountain School are Moran, Sanford Gifford, Thomas Hill, John Kensett, George Ottinger, Danquart Weggeland, Alfred Lambourne, George Beard, Worthington Whittredge, and Henry Culmer. Sources: Vern Swanson, "Utah Art"; Andrew Wilton & Tim Barringer, "American Sublime"; James Flexner, "History of American Painting", Vol. III; Look Smart Internet. (LPD)

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