Date of Award

Spring 3-31-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Fine and Decorative Art and Design

First Advisor

Jonathan Clancy

Abstract

The Hudson River School artistic movement has been regarded as one of the foremost examples of American painting. These images of landscape have embodied the spirit of the United States and its perpetually changing relationship with nature. While these nineteenth-century paintings are consistently analyzed through the lenses of Romanticism and Idealism, there is a lacuna in the narrative which accentuates economic and political philosophies as important influencers of these works. The impact of capitalism and Marxism is identifiable through not only the country’s economic system, but also the nation’s artistic movements. These theories are well-defined by paintings highlighting northeastern agrarianism and those promoting Manifest Destiny through westward artistic ventures. This thesis explores these ideologies through the career of noted Hudson River School artist, Worthington Whittredge (1820-1910). His oeuvre, autobiography, and career, serve as a pragmatic case study focusing on the connections between American conceptions of property and depictions of the physical landscape of the country. Concentrating on the relationship between individual versus national property, as emphasized by Whittredge’s landscape paintings, stresses the socioeconomic and political foundations for the United States thematically permeated the Hudson River School artistic movement.