Hudson River Valley Red
The majesty of the Hudson Valley spawned an entire art movement worldwide. The Hudson River School was a mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by romanticism. The paintings for which the movement is named depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, including the Catskill, Adirondack, and the White Mountains; eventually works by the second generation of artists associated with the school expanded to include other locales in New England, the Maritimes, the American West, and South America.
Hudson River School paintings reflect three themes of America in the 19th century: discovery, exploration, and settlement. The paintings also depict the American landscape as a pastoral setting, where human beings and nature coexist peacefully. Hudson River School landscapes are characterized by their realistic, detailed, and sometimes idealized portrayal of nature, often juxtaposing peaceful agriculture and the remaining wilderness, which was fast disappearing from the Hudson Valley just as it was coming to be appreciated for its qualities of ruggedness and sublimity. Their reverence for America’s natural beauty was shared with contemporary American writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Hudson River Valley Red is an homage to the men and women who celebrated this great valley and who celebrated the beauty of the landscape and the glory of nature.
Hudson River Valley Red is a blend of numerous grapes from the Hudson Valley, including: DeChaunac, Leon Millot, Baco Noir, and Chambourcin. It is a light red, perfect at room temperature or serve it chilled. It is a dry red wine, with 0% residual sugar. The wine features a fruit forward promise that delivers – plum, strawberry, and bright raspberry come across the nose first and then the palate. It is a nice, affordable blend, light in color and with a nice juicy ending, and little tannin. It’s a perfect pizza, burger, picnic red.
Every year we change the label of this wine. This year we chose INDIAN’S VESPERS by Asher Brown Durand. This is the second work of Asher Durand we have featured on the Hudson River Valley Red series. The first painting was “Kindred Spirits”.
According to notes from The White House Historical Association: “Durand . . . had been notified by a letter of February 26, 1847, that the American Art-Union wished to commission him ‘to paint for the institution . . . a landscape . . . . The subject and size to be left to your own choice.’ . . . “Durand seized the opportunity . . . . “The Indian, his arms raised to the sun in praise, is bathed in a yellow- and pink-hued light. He is further emphasized by the brilliant path of the sun’s reflections on one of those ‘lakes embosomed in ancient forests’ that Durand praised as original features of the American landscape . . . . “. . . The central stand mediates between the fallen trees, tangled growth, and misty hills on the left and, on the right, the blossoming plants and the young trees on the shore of the unspoiled lake. At its base, like a cenotaph, is a blasted tree trunk. . . . Durand has summoned virgin forests, vast waters, insubstantial mists, man in his natural state, and the sun’s unifying eye to evoke the ancient roots and yearnings of mankind.”
Durand’s painting was timely. According to Gail E. Husch, in her polemic “Something Coming,” wrote, “By the mid-1840s , some Americans were concerned that greed cloaked in the rhetoric of Manifest Destiny was inducing the United States to renege on its promises to relocated tribes. Yet most of the visual representations of the doomed Indian that appeared in New York in 1847 did not burn with indignation over white injustice. Rather, they expressed gentle melancholy and resigned acceptance, evoking romantic associations of humanity’s inevitable fall and decay. The old, savage way of the Indian, however noble, was destined to be pushed into oblivion by the march of time and forces of progress. Durand’s Indian Vesper…express[es] this view.”
W. S. Di Piero wrote in the San Diego Reader in February 2008, “When you see The Indian Vespers, you don’t have to be a sentimentalist to feel a pang for the unstewarded wildness that would soon enough be “tamed,” as the red man would be tamed, by the encroachments of industry. (Who needs to unpack the irony that The Indian Vespers hangs in the White House?) Durand lived till 1887, though he ceased painting about ten years before his death, and he lived through Indian wars, increased industrialization, the Depression of 1837, the Nativist fanaticism Scorsese dramatized in Gangs of New York, the Civil War, New York’s draft riots and lynchings, the imperatives of Manifest Destiny, and the beginnings of the Gilded Age.”
Di Piero continued, “When he took up painting in the 1830s, he went the conventional route of portraiture and genre painting but also made the landscape pictures he’d become famous for. He came of age as an artist when critics and connoisseurs were calling for a nativist art that spoke to America’s freshness, aspirations, and piety. By temperament, Durand’s ambitions overlapped with the spirit of transcendentalism, the pantheistic courting of a mystical sublime. Transcendentalism — to barbarize its complexity with simplification — held that creation was united and watched over by what Emerson called the “oversoul,” and the “spirit-reality” that transcends our contingent existence also veins and floods all of nature, if only we have eyes to see. When Durand found his true métier painting the pastures, valleys, woods, and mountains of the Catskills, he was unabashed about making art a testimony of devotional attention. “The true province of Landscape Art,” he wrote, “is the representation of the work of God in the visible creation.”
Asher Brown Durand (August 21, 1796 – September 17, 1886) was an American painter of the Hudson River School. Durand was born in and eventually died in Maplewood, New Jersey (then called Jefferson Village), the eighth of eleven children; his father was a watchmaker and a silversmith.
Asher Brown Durand
Durand was apprenticed to an engraver from 1812 to 1817, later entering into a partnership the owner of the firm, who asked him to run the firm’s New York branch. He engraved Declaration of Independence for John Trumbull in 1823, which established Durand’s reputation as one of the country’s finest engravers. Durand helped organize the New York Drawing Association in 1825, which would become the National Academy of Design; he would serve the organization as president from 1845 to 1861.
His interest shifted from engraving to oil painting around 1830 with the encouragement of his patron, Luman Reed. In 1837, he accompanied his friend Thomas Cole on a sketching expedition to Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks and soon after he began to concentrate on landscape painting. He spent summers sketching in the Catskills, Adirondacks, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, making hundreds of drawings and oil sketches that were later incorporated into finished academy pieces which helped to define the Hudson River School.
Durand is particularly remembered for his detailed portrayals of trees, rocks, and foliage. He was an advocate for drawing directly from nature with as much realism as possible. Durand wrote, “Let [the artist] scrupulously accept whatever [nature] presents him until he shall, in a degree, have become intimate with her infinity…never let him profane her sacredness by a willful departure from truth.”
Like other Hudson River School artists, Durand also believed that nature was an ineffable manifestation of God. He expressed this sentiment and his general views on art in his “Letters on Landscape Painting” in The Crayon, a mid-19th century New York art periodical. Wrote Durand, “[T]he true province of Landscape Art is the representation of the work of God in the visible creation…”
In 2007, the Brooklyn Museum exhibited nearly sixty of Durand’s works in the first monographic exhibition devoted to the painter in more than thirty-five years. The show, entitled “Kindred Spirits: Asher B. Durand and the American Landscape,” was on view from March 30 to July 29, 2007.