From the Schuylkill to the Hudson: Landscapes of the Early American Republic will delve into the important and underexplored tradition of landscape representation in Philadelphia from the Early American Republic to the Centennial Exhibition (1876) and how that corpus shaped the better-known Hudson River School. Philadelphia's key role in the growth of American landscape painting has never been the subject of a major museum exhibition. PAFA's exhibition, along with the accompanying catalog, will illuminate the growth of the genre from its roots, through its rise into the public consciousness.
Thomas Cole, who is widely regarded as the founder of the Hudson River School, began his career as a landscape painter after living and training in Philadelphia. During the time he spent in the city in the 1820s, he was influenced by the work of Thomas Doughty and Thomas Birch, whose American landscapes were on view at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Doughty and Birch were only two of many landscape painters living and exhibiting their work in Philadelphia at the time, including Charles Willson Peale, James Peale, William Russell Birch, John Lewis Krimmel, Joshua Shaw, Jacob Eichholtz, and Russell Smith. From the Schuylkill to the Hudson will place special emphasis on representations of local waterways in order to showcase the manner in which these Philadelphia water views, whether of the Schuylkill, the Wissahickon, or Delaware, constituted some of the earliest and most influential sites within American visual culture.
In addition to exhibiting fine art paintings and prints, From the Schuylkill to the Hudson: Landscapes of the Early American Republic will share with visitors the broader story of landscape representation in Philadelphia by including decorative ceramics produced both locally and globally. A highlight of the exhibition will be a group of major Hudson River School paintings acquired by PAFA over the last 10 years, including works by Cole, Albert Bierstadt, David Johnson, Frederic Church, and Thomas Moran.
The works in the exhibition will be drawn primarily from PAFA's superlative permanent collection—along with select public and private local collections—underlining the key role Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Academy itself played in the development of landscape painting in America. The accompanying catalog will include reproductions of works from the show, an essay on landscape painting and decorative arts by Anna O. Marley, and an essay on reproductive landscapes by Ramey Mize.