new-york

Jasper Cropsey

Staten Island Institute

Three exhibitions of American landscapists shed light on the nature of landscape painting during the generation that followed Cole and Durand and reached maturity about the middle of the last century.

Of these three, only that of Jasper Cropsey (1823–1900), originally organized and shown at the University of Maryland, offers a comprehensive view of the artist’s work. At the outset Cropsey was wholly under the sway of Cole: his early landscapes are not so much landscapes as they are pastoral history paintings, roughly comparable in intention to the landscapes of Claude Lorrain, which are always peopled by nymphs or minor dieties in order to raise their dignity in an esthetic hierarchy for which only depictions of the greatest actions of gods, prophets or heroes could claim lasting significance as art. But in many cases, Cropsey goes even further than did Claude, and one may well ask why,

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