THOMAS DOUGHTY 1793-1856
Denning's Point, Hudson River, c. 1839
Oil on mounted canvas, 24 X 30" (60.96 X 76.20 cm.)
Anonymous gift, 961-0-104
Thomas Doughty was much admired and recognized in his day "one of the pioneers of our landscape Art," and as an artist who had painted ,'many noble pictures." Doughty exhibited frequently at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the National Academy of Design, the Boston Athenaeum, and the American Art-Union, and was an honorary professional member of the National Academy of Design.
Doughty first tried his hand at painting around 1816 while working as a leather currier in his native city of Philadelphia. In 1820, he dedicated himself to painting' full time, frequently traveling to New York and New England in search of new scenery. Doughty's Cabinet of Natural History and American Rural Sports, a magazine co-published with his brother John, contained the first series of sporting prints made in America. In 1832, Doughty moved his residence to Boston, where he enjoyed his greatest financial success. After a two-year stay in England, he lived briefly in Newburgh, New York and, in 1840, settled in New York City.
Denning's Point, Hudson River was probably painted near the beginning of the artist's stay in Newburgh. In October of that year he exhibited two related landscapes at the Apollo Association in New York. One, entitled View from Denning's Point, Looking Up the Hudson, depicted scenery in the opposite direction from the view shown here. The other, Opening of the Highlands, from Below Newburgh, Looking Down the Hudson, must have included much the same terrain as the Butler Institute painting.
Denning's Point, Hudson River exemplifies the type of quiet, pastoral landscape that made a name for the artist in the first half of the nineteenth century. In 1867, the art critic Henry T. Tuckerman praised Doughty for his "woodland landscapes, especially [his] many small, picturesque, and effectively colored scenes." The painting is named for a small peninsula or spit of land jutting into the Hudson River from its eastern shore near Beacon, New York. The peninsula, Denning's Point, is located in the center of Doughty's painting. In the background are Storm King and Crow's Nest mountains, and the rounded dome to the left is Sugarloaf Mountain. Directly across the river from Denning's Point, but not visible in this work, is the town of Newburgh.
Denning's Point, Hudson River is stylistically similar to much of Doughty's work from the mid-1830s and later. Frank H. Goodyear, Jr. has characterized this phase of the artist's work as broader and more painterly in handling than his earlier paintings, darker and more restrained in value, and with more emphasis on tonal values than variety of color or detail. After the mid-1830s, Doughty's paintings reflect the influence of the picturesque English school of landscape painting. They also recall the French painter Claude Lorraine, whose landscapes were well-known among American painters. In general, Doughty's later paintings appear more idealized and less specific in their details than his earlier, more topographic views.
Doughty is an important predecessor of the Hudson River School, the loosely- affiliated group Of painters who popularized views of the Catskills and the Hudson River region in the middle of the nineteenth century. Like them, Doughty created a variety of American landscapes ranging from the topographic and specific to the evocative and poetic. In Denning's Point, Hudson River, a romanticized view of an actual site, we find a little of each.
KATE NEARPASS OGDEN