American Art · European Art

The Romance of the Mountains at the Newark Museum

These are just a few of the beautiful landscape paintings I saw at the Newark Museum’s The Rockies & The Alps: Bierstadt, Calame, and the Romance of the Mountains, an exhibition about the role that mountains have played in Euro-American art and popular culture. Looking at all the spectacular artworks in this show, it’s easy to understand why people feel so drawn to the mountains. A little while ago, I mentioned the Romantic idea of the “sublime”, and I can’t think of any better example than paintings like these.

I had a great time at the exhibition. I saw works by pretty much all of my favorite Hudson River School artists, as well as works by many great European landscape painters. I was especially excited about the inclusion of works by female Hudson River School painters like Fidelia Bridges and Eliza Pratt Greatorex. I wrote about these women, and many others, in two articles for DailyArt Magazine a while back, and I’m glad to finally see a few of their pieces in person.

I also learned a lot about how mountains became popular tourist destinations in 19th-century Europe and America. In addition to all the beautiful paintings, the exhibition features examples of early mass media (prints, stereographs, postcards, and photographs) depicting the mountains and mountaineering. It was kind of funny to see images of Victorian women trekking across snow-covered mountain passes in their long skirts and parasols. That must have been quite a feat! In one room, a projector plays a slideshow of antique images, while a magic lantern (the invention that would have originally been used to project them) is on display nearby. Reading the exhibition catalogue, I’m learning even more about the mountains in 19th-century art, literature, and thought.

The Rockies and the Alps: Bierstadt, Calame, and the Romance of the Mountains is currently on view at the Newark Museum in Newark, NJ. It opened in March and runs through August 19, 2018. I highly recommend the exhibition for anyone who enjoys nature, geology, or landscape paintings. I am also enjoying the hardcover exhibition catalogue, available in the museum shop. See the museum’s website for more information about visiting.

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