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Bask in the glow of the afternoon sun radiating from the center of this painting. Let your eyes travel to its colors: green, gold, and the fiery blaze of leaves turning red.

In Autumn – On the Hudson RiverJasper Francis Cropsey captures the splendor of North American fall. This monumental work stands 5 feet tall and stretches 9 feet across. To make it, Cropsey carefully observed the trees on the banks of the Hudson River. He painted them so faithfully that individual species can be identified: elm, birch, red oak, maple, American chestnut, and the evergreen hemlock and pine trees.

But when he first exhibited this work across the Atlantic in London in 1860, British audiences were skeptical that such brilliant foliage could be real. Leaves in the UK and Europe turn mostly yellow in fall, while those in North America favor towards red and orange. In response, Cropsey mounted American autumn leaves next to the painting as proof.

Detailed closeup of leaves on the right side of Cropsey's Autumn – On the Hudson

Jasper Francis Cropsey, detail of Autumn - On the Hudson River, 1860, oil on canvas, Gift of the Avalon Foundation, 1963.9.1.

No matter where you are in the world or what seasons you’re passing through, take this scene as an invitation to pause and notice changes in the natural world around you. And if there isn't currently a riot of color or brisk fall breeze where you live, spend some time with our autumnal images.

A woman with smooth, pale skin and wearing a hat, long dress, and gloves, stands holding a bunch of pumpkin-orange leaves against a background of trees painted with touches of rust orange and pine green in this vertical painting. The woman tips her head back slightly to look at us with dark eyes under arched eyebrows. Her cheeks are flushed and her coral-pink lips closed. Her round black hat perches on the back of her head and she has an inky black, long-sleeved, hip-length jacket with bronze trim at the shoulders, cuffs, and down the front. A gauzy bow is tied at her neck. Her left elbow, on our right, is bent and she holds up her tan-colored, ruffled skirt with a white-gloved hand. The raised skirt exposes sky-blue lining and white, ruffled flounces at her feet. Her right arm, on our left, hangs at her side and holds the handle of a basket. Deep marigold-orange leaves cascade out of the basket. One black shoe peeks out from under her long skirt. She stands on a hill carpeted with crimson-red, tawny-brown, golden yellow, and forest-green leaves. The space behind her is filled with touches and dabs of red, orange, brown, black, and tan.

Winslow Homer, Autumn, 1877, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 1985.64.22

Christian Rohlfs, White Beeches in Fall, 1910, oil on canvas, Collection of Arnold and Joan Saltzman, 2020.112.5

A dirt path winds through a dense forest with leaves that glow gold around silvery-gray boulders in this vertical landscape painting. Close to us, the boulders are partially covered with moss and growth in shades of green and russet red. Sunlight from the upper right catches a sapling crowned with flame-red leaves that angles in from the lower right corner of the painting. Beyond it leafy yellow-green shrubs crowd beside two more putty-gray boulders. The path recedes just left of center and is lined by trees covered with rough bark. The path ends at a fiery copper glow in the distance. The artist signed and dated the painting in the lower right corner: “WM. T. Richards Phil. 1863.”

William Trost Richards, October, 1863, oil on canvas, The William Stamps Farish Fund, 2003.29.1

Arthur L. Flory, Autumn, 1964, color lithograph, Rosenwald Collection, 1980.45.588

Alma Thomas, Autumn Drama, c. 1969, acrylic on canvas, Corcoran Collection (The Evans-Tibbs Collection, Gift of Thurlow Evans Tibbs, Jr.), 2015.19.211

William Merritt Chase, Gathering Autumn Flowers, 1894/1895, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 2012.89.1

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Autumn Landscape, watercolor, Rosenwald Collection, 1945.5.1320

Thickly painted, rectangular vertical and horizontal slabs in intense buttercup and mango yellow, shamrock and lime green, burnt orange, raspberry pink, and charcoal gray are layered in this nearly square, abstract composition. In the top half, shapes are smaller, closer together, and separated by strokes of moss green. In the bottom half, the shapes are larger and seem to float against a vivid orange background. Smaller swipes and dabs of cotton candy pink, plum purple, indigo blue, sea glass green, scarlet red, rust brown, and bright white are interspersed around the slabs. The artist signed and dated the painting in green paint in the lower right corner, “hans hofmann 57.”

Hans Hofmann, Autumn Gold, 1957, oil on canvas, Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection, 1996.81.4

Anne Appleby, Autumn Aspen, 2000, color aquatint with burnishing on Somerset paper, Gift of Kathan Brown, 2006.122.1

Auguste Allongé, Autumn Landscape in the Forest of Fontainebleau, c. 1860, watercolor with graphite, Purchased as the Gift of Alexander M. and Judith W. Laughlin, 2019.64.1

Frances H. Gearhart, Fall, 1920s, color woodcut on wove paper, Corcoran Collection (Bequest of Frank B. Bristow), 2015.19.1185

John Marin, Little Maple, Deer Isle No. 1, 1926, watercolor over graphite on wove paper, Gift of John Marin, Jr., 1986.54.117

Ansel Adams, Dawn, Autumn, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, 1948, printed 1981, gelatin silver print, Gift of Virginia B. Adams, 1986.3.55

Alfred Stieglitz, Autumn, 1893, printed 1895/1896, platinum print, Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949.3.83

Fidelia Bridges, Dead Yellow-breasted Bird in Autumn Landscape, 1870s, watercolor on wove paper, Gift of William and Abigail Gerdts, 2018.44.43

Marguerite Zorach, Autumn Colors, c. 1940, color screenprint on wove paper, Gift of Bob Stana and Tom Judy, 2017.148.69

Hideo Hagiwara, Leaves, 1960, 4-color lithograph, Rosenwald Collection, 1964.8.1070

Jay Moon, Autumn Haiku, 1975, etching and aquatint, Rosenwald Collection, 1980.45.1069

Charles Burchfield, Autumn Wind, 1952, lithograph, Reba and Dave Williams Collection, Gift of Reba and Dave Williams, 2008.115.1107

Thomas Doughty, View on the Hudson in Autumn, 1850, oil on canvas, Corcoran Collection (Gift of William Wilson Corcoran), 2015.19.113

Discover more seasonal delights

Top image: Jasper Francis Cropsey, Autumn - On the Hudson River, 1860, oil on canvas, Gift of the Avalon Foundation, 1963.9.1.

October 19, 2023