John Frederick Kensett


American Luminist Landscape Painter associated with the Hudson River School

Artistically and stylistically influenced by the following painters - Frederic Edwin Church,  Benjamin Champney and  Asher B. Durand

Education - apprenticed to his uncle, Alfred Daggett, an engraver of bank-notes

Cause of Death - natural causes

Mediums - oil on canvas



About the Artist

 John Frederick Kensett earned great praise for his spiritual understanding of nature and his faithfulness to its most minute detail. He is best known for his dramatic landscapes and skill at capturing the drama and power of  waterfalls in the Berkshire Mountains. His work was romantic, yet it had a understated, more personal quality, his painting Sunrise on the Sea is an example of this. Kensett was a surprisingly original painter, he exhibited dexterity in all subjects -- dreamy mountain scenes, ominous thunderclouds and fiery sunsets.

The Hudson River School


The Hudson River School was a mid-19th century American art movement established by Thomas Cole in 1825. The style was greatly influenced by European romanticism. The painters shared common artistic sensibilities which united them as a school despite their distinctive styles. The painters focused on the American wilderness, particularly the Hudson River Valley as well as the Catskill Mountains and Adirondack Mountains. The paintings were spectacular and dramatic reflecting the wilderness environment. The artists moved their studios out of doors and sketched directly from nature focusing on the drama of light and shadow. Many paintings depict a picturesque woodland interior, dramatic sunrise or menacing storm clouds brewing in the distance.

The mid 1850s was a time of unprecedented development for the young nation, and the Hudson River painters depicted the vastness and beautify of a country proud of its natural resources. They embraced nature and showed a remarkable attention to detail within the natural landscape. This school popularized the concept of  Manifest Destiny and came to symbolize American vitality, independence and simplicity. Today, works by the Hudson River school artists are treasured as the first uniquely American school of art and for their beauty and significance to art, history and culture




Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with the Hudson River School-  unspoiled nature, atmospheric lighting, primeval landscape, theatrical, Catskill, Berkshire, White Mountains, Walt Whitman, American Transcendentalists, spiritual transformation, dramatic instincts, large scale canvasses, Luminist, Romantic school, wilderness, New York, symbolic language, realism,  Western Expansion and Manifest Destiny.

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Key Artists Connected To The Hudson River School
Albert Bierstadt American 1830-1902
Thomas Cole, American, 1801-1848
Herman Herzog German, 1831-1932
Thomas Hill, English, 1829-1908
Thomas Moran English born American1837-1926
George Inness American, 1825-1894
Frederic Edwin Church, American, 1826-1900
George Loring Brown, American, 1814-1889
Thomas Chambers, English, 1808-1866
Asher B. Durand, American, 1796-1886
John Frederick Kensett, American, 1816-1872
Jasper Francis Cropsey, American, 1823-1900
Martin Heade, American, 1819-1904