A group of landscape painters originally known as simply "American" or "Native" painters, the Hudson River School acquired its present name because of its early focus on the dramatic landscape of the Hudson River Valley in New York. While Thomas Cole is usually considered the "father" of the Hudson River tradition, other important painters including Asher Durand, Frederic Church, Albert Bierstadt, and Martin Johnson Heade contributed to the development of this movement. Highlighting the awesome, monumental quality of the American landscape, these artists were fundamentally optimistic about westward expansion and the promise of democracy. In their quest for new and spectacular effects, the Hudson River artists journeyed far beyond the Hudson River by the mid-nineteenth century, traveling to the Rocky Mountains, California, and even South America to record the expanse and grandeur of the continents.
A group of American landscape painters of the mid-19th century who took a Romantic approach to depicting the Hudson River Valley in New York state, as well as lands further west. Their dramatic paintings of the American landscape, often embracing moral or literary associations, helped to define a uniquely American style of painting that persists to this day. Famous examples of Hudson River school painters include Washington Allston (1779-1843), Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), and Frederic Church (1826-1900).