Overview

This monumental view of the Hudson River Valley was painted from memory in the artist's London studio. Cropsey adopted a high vantage point, looking southeast toward the distant Hudson River and the flank of Storm King Mountain. A small stream leads from the foreground, where three hunters and their dogs gaze into the sunlight. All along the meandering tributary there are signs of man's peaceful coexistence with nature: a small log cabin, grazing sheep, children playing on a bridge, and cows standing placidly in the water. Here, man neither conquers nor is subservient to nature; both coexist harmoniously. In fact, the landscape is depicted as a ready arena for further agricultural expansion. While autumnal scenes traditionally are associated with the transience of life, Cropsey's painting is more a celebration of American nationalism. As a critic wrote in 1860, the picture represents "not the solemn wasting away of the year, but its joyful crowning festival."

The painting created a sensation among many British viewers who had never seen such a colorful panorama of fall foliage. Indeed, because the autumn in Britain customarily is far less colorful than in the United States, the artist decided to display specimens of North American leaves alongside his painting to persuade skeptical visitors that his rendition was botanically accurate.

Inscription

lower center: Autumn, -on the Hudson River / J. F Cropsey / London 1860

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

Purchased from the artist 1862 by Thomas Slattery, London.[1] Arthur Jocelyn Charles, 6th Earl of Arran [1868-1958]; (Earl of Arran sale, Sotheby's, London, 11 July 1951, no. 150); "Duke"; private collection; (John Nicholson Gallery, New York), by November 1959; purchased 15 October 1963 by NGA.

Exhibition History

1860
Pall Mall, London, 1860, no cat.
1862
London Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations, London, 1862, no. 2871.
1966
Art of the United States: 1670-1966, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1966, no. 57.
1968
Jasper F. Cropsey, 1823-1900: A Retrospective View of America's Painter of Autumn, University of Maryland Art Gallery, College Park, 1968, 26, 27, 30, 48, no. 19 (cat. by Peter Bermingham).
1969
In Memoriam, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1969, unnumbered checklist.
1970
Jasper F. Cropsey 1823-1900, The Cleveland Museum of Art; Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica; National Collection of Fine Arts, Washington, D.C., 1970-1971, no. 35, color repro. 57 (cat. by William S. Talbot).
1985
Presidential Inaugural luncheon, U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., 21 January 1985.
1987
American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1987-1988, 206-207, no cat. no. (entry by Carrie Rebora).
1988
Bilder aus der Neuen Welt: Amerikanische Malerei des 18. und 19. Jahrhundts., Orangerie des Schlosses Charlottenburg, Berlin, Germany; Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland, 1988-1989, no. 19 (cat. by Thomas W. Gaehtgens).
1994
Jasper Francis Cropsey's 'The Spirit of War' and 'The Spirit of Peace', National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1994-1995, brochure, no.3, repro.
2000
Scenes from a Century Past--Reflections of the Spirit: Vibrant Forces for Rebirth as We Enter the New Millennium, Newington-Cropsey Foundation, Hastings-on-Hudson, 2000, unnumbered catalogue, repro.
2002
American Sublime: Landscape Painting in the United States 1820-1880, Tate Britain, London; Museum of American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2002, no. 27, repro.

Bibliography

1859
_Cosmopolitan Art Journal (June 1859): 132.
1860
"Art Items." New York Daily Tribune. (12 May 1860).
1860
Bennet, W.C. "Cropsey's 'Autumn on the Hudson' [sonnet]." (London) Art Journal (July 1860): 336.
1860
_Boston Evening Transcript (18 May 1860): 2.
1860
_Home Journal (9 June 1860): 2.
1860
_The Crayon (May 1860): 124.
1862
_London Morning Post (6 May 1862).
1862
_London Times (7 April 1862).
1867
Tuckerman 1867, 536-537.
1879
Sheldon, George Williams. American Painters. New York, 1879: 83-84.
1947
Sears, Clara Endicott. Highlights among the Hudson River Artists. Boston, 1947: 173-174.
1968
Bermingham, Peter. Jasper F. Cropsey: A Retrospective View of America's Painter of Autumn. Exh. cat. University of Maryland, College Park, 1968: 26-27.
1970
_American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 48, repro.
1970
Talbot, William S. Jasper F. Cropsey 1823-1900. Exh. cat. National Collection of Fine Arts, Washington, D.C., 1970: 33-37, 86-87.
1972
Howat, John K. The Hudson River and Its Painters. New York, 1972: 144, color repro. no. 25.
1974
Moore, James C. "The Storm and the Harvest: The Image of Nature in Mid-Nineteenth Century American Landscape Painting." Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1974: 49, 171-173.
1977
Talbot, William S. Jasper F. Cropsey, 1823-1900. New York, 1977: 154-159, 256-257, 415-417, 483-486.
1980
_American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 140, repro.
1980
Talbot, William S. "Indian Summer by Jasper F. Cropsey." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 58 (1980): 153-155.
1980
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 15, 96, repro.
1981
Williams 1981, color repro. 92-93, 116.
1986
Novak, Barbara. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Nineteenth Century American Painting. London, 1986: 13.
1988
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. Rev. ed. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988: 18, 110, 182, repro.
1992
_American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 155, repro.
1992
_National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 235, repro.
1993
Miller, Angela. The Empire of the Eye: Landscape Representation and American Cultural Politics, 1825-1875. Ithaca, New York, 1993: 160-161.
1996
Kelly, Franklin, with Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Deborah Chotner, and John Davis. American Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 118-122, color repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 314-315, no. 255, color repro.

Technical Summary

The support is a coarse but tightly woven, plain-weave fabric that has been lined. A whitish ground was applied evenly in a very thin layer, over which paint was added in a variety of techniques. In most areas the artist laid thin washes of color, then painted into them or drew over them using a thicker paste. There are numerous bits of impasto, primarily in the foliage. Some have been flattened, probably as a result of a lining treatment that increased the prominence of the support's weave pattern. There are scattered small losses \rand scratches throughout the image. Discolored varnish \rwas removed and the painting was restored most recently in 1986.

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