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American Sublime:
Landscape Painting in the United States 1820-1880
Andrew Wilton & Tim Barringer

Winner of the Art Exhibition Catalogue Award, Art Newspaper/AXA
Winner of the Henry-Russell Hitchcock Award

Paperback | 2002 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691115566
Hardcover | 2002 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691096704


The painters who came to be known as the Hudson River School--Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Frederic Edwin Church, Jasper Cropsey, Sanford Robinson Gifford, and others--found inspiration in our young country's natural wonders and were the first to paint many of its still-wild vistas. As America was settled and the wilderness receded, their successors--most notably Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran--carried their quest for the sublime to the Far West, communicating its breathtaking grandeur in brilliant views of Rocky Mountain peaks, roaring waterfalls, and vast canyons. Within a single generation these artists established the dramatic approach to American landscape painting that is celebrated in this stirringly beautiful book. The freshness of their vision, the intensity of their invention, and the energy of their execution were all born of the urgency these artists sensed in the life of America itself.

Published to accompany a major transatlantic exhibition, American Sublime rejoices in America the Beautiful as seen in some of the country’s most glorious landscape paintings. It contains a fully illustrated catalogue of all the paintings in the exhibition, with more than one hundred color plates, including three gatefolds. Biographies of the artists are included, and thoughtful and elegantly written essays cast new light on their ambitions and achievements. The lucid text places American landscape painting in the context of the international art world and of the European landscape tradition. And it explores ideas of national identity and empire in America, looking in particular at how these landscapes, whether real or imagined, reflect Americans' hopes and fears for their country.

As a tribute to some of our most important American artists and the land that inspired them, this stunningly illustrated book will have a deep and wide appeal.


"A gorgeously illustrated and learned history of nineteenth-century American landscape painting. . . . Wilton and Barringer's commentary is stimulating and important, and the exceptional plates are bliss unadulterated."--Booklist

"Splendid. . . . Andrew Wilton and Tim Barringer have written a book to treasure. . . . A valuable contribution to the study of American art history."--Phyllis Tuchman, ArtNet Magazine

"The essays and catalog entries are well written and informative, providing a geographic and historical context for the artwork, [but] it is the stunning illustrations (including several two-page foldouts) that dazzle the eye and imagination."--Library Journal

"What glorious images these are!"--National Geographic Adventure

"Highly and enthusiastically recommended."--Choice

"The spectacular paintings that record [the] search for sublimity, handsomely printed here, retain their power to entice and overwhelm."--New York Times Book Review

"At first glance, the color plates reproduced in American Sublime seem to be nothing more than pretty pictures. Only when the authors put them back into the political and cultural context in which they were created do the images take on new meanings, and only then do we begin to see the sometimes grandiose intentions of the artists who painted them and the art collectors who displayed them."--Jonathan Kirsch, Los Angeles Times

"The catalog is far more than a souvenir of this astonishing [exhibition]. There are two well-contrasted essays by the exhibition's organizers Andrew Wilton and Tim Barringer, and reproductions of each work are accompanied by very ample notes. . . . [B]oth authors emphasize the religious and ethical themes portrayed, or more often symbolized, in many of the works."--Geoffrey Newman, The Art Book

More reviews

Published in association with the Tate, London

File created: 3/10/2015

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