Special Events

Shifts in the 19th-Century American Cultural Landscape

Friday, September 9, 2016
Humanities Institute Luesther T. Mertz Library; 2–4 p.m.

In conjunction with the Garden-wide exhibition, Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas, this afternoon’s discussion will highlight the cultural-philosophic forces and changing perceptions of nature that impacted American landscapes, garden design, and horticulture during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Three experts in American history, art, and horticulture will guide the audience through these rapidly shifting realities and thoughts, as expressed in actual and painted American landscapes, from grandiose wildernesses to suburban scenes and more intimate garden settings.

David Schuyler, Professor of Humanities and American Studies, Franklin & Marshall College. Author of Sanctified Landscapes and co-editor of The Frederick Law Olmsted Papers
As the first iconic American landscape, the Hudson River Valley has been portrayed by many artists throughout the 19th century. With the development of the Hudson River School, it appeared America had recognized a national identity and style of art. As the area became increasingly industrialized, artists began portraying less majestic American landscapes.

Alan Wallach, Professor of Art and Art History and Professor of American Studies, College of William & Mary
Co-Curator of Thomas Cole: Landscape into History
Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson Valley School, provided a strong foundation for the future of American landscape paintings. Paintings of the Hudson River Valley helped shift American landscapes as the nation searched for a unique national identity. The United States faced a rapidly changing vision of nature and thus a shift in landscape and garden design.

Denise Wiles Adams, Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, Historian of American Garden Design, Period Homes, & Ornamental Plants.
Author of American Home Landscapes & Restoring American Gardens
Throughout the 19th century, horticulture and garden design were impacted by the changing vision of nature and the development of increasingly urban lifestyles. The restoration of period gardens with heirloom ornamental plants and trees offers a connection with American cultural history. Recreating historic places today, means incorporating modern needs.

For more information about the Humanities Institute, see: nybg.org/education/mertz-library/humanities/ or contact vsellers@nybg.org

Support for the Humanities Institute provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

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