Reflective Journal Week 22, 23 Feb – 29 Feb 2020

Expansion on the look list:

1. Fox, Caroline. 1993. Stanhope Forbes and the Newlyn School by Carolin Fox, 1993. 759.2 FOR, Wimbledon.

2. Fox, Caroline, Green acre, Francis, 1979. Artists from Newlyn School, 1880 – 1990. [Catalogue of] an Exhibition Organised by Newlyn Orion Galleries. 709.41090348 ART, Chelsea.

3. Hardie, Melissa. 1995. 100 years in Newlyn: Diary of a Gallery. 708.2 NEW, Chelsea.

4. Fox, Caroline; Greenacre Francis, 1985, Painting in Newlyn 1880 -1930. 709.429, Camberwell.

5. Smith, Anthony. 2013. The National Made Real Art and National Identity in Western Europe 1600 -1850. 709.032 SMI, LCC.

6. Matteo, 2012. Art Nouveau: Between Modernism and Romantic Nationalism. 709.0349 FOC, Chelsea.

7. Boulluta, Kamal. 2008. Belonging and Globalisation: Critical Essays in Contemporary Art and Culture. 701.8 BOU, Camberwell.

8. Bowhis, Jelle; Schuvemaker, Margriet. 2010. Monumentalism. 709.4094, Camberwell.

9. Weinberg, H. Barbara (Helene Barbara); Bolger, Doreen; Curry, David Park. 1994. American impressionism and realism : the painting of modern life, 1885-1915. 709.734 MET, Camberwell. 

10. Bourguignon, Katherine M; Brettell, Richard R; Fowle, Frances. — Musée des impressionnismes. 2014. American Impressionism: A New Vision 1880 – 1990. Yale University Press. 709.734BOU, Camberwell. 

11. Snell, Simon J. National Galleries: The Cure of Making Nations. Online access. 

12. Haar, Sharon; Robbins Mark. Schools for Cities: Urban Strategies. 727 NAT, Chelsea. 

So far, the proposal is:

In what way do Painters of the Hudson River School challenge the Depiction of the “American Dream” Landscapes and how can these ideas of Landscape Painting be Translated into a Contemporary Experience of Cornish Landscape? 

Subject Area, Aim and Objectives

The historical context of the Hudson River School stimulated its painters to challenge the idea of landscape painting within the young federal state of the United States. Hudson River School, at its very beginning, focused on documenting the transformation of a soulful wildness to an urbanised wealthy life alongside the cultivated meadow. This awakening of European Colonialism was highlighted by the second generation of its artists. The Hudson River School epitomised the transition of the American Dream from philosophical conservatism to pragmatic capitalism, and finally to its imperialistic Neo and Post-colonialism. American culture was developed in a relatively isolated environment, yet how did it avoid involution and ultimately achieved its hegemony? The evolution of the idea within landscape paintings of the Hudson River School shares a similarity with the pride of recognition of Cornish identity. How does the idealism of Hudson River School landscape painting connect to the Celtic tradition and Anglo-Saxon culture? How can a contemporary experience of immersing in Cornish landscapes be translated from ideas referred to as “American Dreams” produced by the Hudson River School? This project proposes to visualise a Cornwall that is abundant with cultural heritage, yet positioned controversially through the display of an idealised Cornish lifestyle while trying to maintain its voice concerning contemporary issues.

Historical Context

Thomas Cole journeyed to America in 1825, and immediately initialed a new movement that majorly focusing on landscapes in the basin of Hudson River. While obtaining a substantial influence from Romanticism, the movement considered the nature suited as the description of Thorns and Walden, while considerably reflecting on Roger Scruton’s essay Cultural Conservatism. The developed part of the north was a promised land for immigrants upon which an industrial civilisation was aimed to be established. While demonstrating an image where pragmatic effort would promisingly lead to an idealised life of bourgeoisies, the national identity of the States gradually awakened, matured and evolved. The country’s brutal westward expansion, and wars raged both in North America and overseas determined the nation’s transform to an empire. An adventurous conquer appeared among the second generation of Hudson River Painters, reflected this development of national value, also celebrated the vastness of its territory and the variety of its materials. 

Recent years, the region of Cornwall’s developing identity of independence has come to the researcher’s attention. As many of its people’s preference of being recognised as Cornish instead of Briton, and the conservation regarding local culture in the region, a similarity to Hudson River School painters’s encouragement of national identity and idealised American landscapes has been developing. Cornwall has been seeking recognisable voice of its own. Its resisting attitude towards the English identity has demonstrated us a region which has being struggling in the anxiety over uncertainties in the contemporary time.


  1. Researching the development of the idea of “American Dream” in Hudson River School paintings, and comparing it to contemporary Cornish recognition of its landscape and identity.
  2. Studying the fundamental theories that cultivated the environment in which the Hudson River School was born, especially the Cultural Conservatism and Romanticism. Analysing the movement in a big picture.
  3. Investigating the Cornish identity through its history of art regarding relevant movements and societies, for example, Newlyn School and St Ives School.
  4. Reflecting critically on the question. Challenging the topic with methods including but not limited to painting, drawing and writing. 
  5. Field trips to Cornwall. Interviewing and communicating with relevant professionals to depict a firm acknowledgement of Cornish identity. Picturing the difference of recognising Cornish landscapes between local residents and visitors. 

Final Outcomes

  1. A thesis discusses the proposed question and critically reflect on relevant aspects. It should introduce a more detailed logic of how Cornish people value their landscapes and conclude how contemporary minds recognise, idealise and output Cornish landscapes.
  2. A series of physical works critically reflecting to the topic. It should emphasis on combining the personal experience in Cornwall with the understanding of Hudson River School paintings’ essence of the American Dream.


Scruton R, 197x, Culture Conservatism.

Ferber, L. (2009). The Hudson River School

Howat, J. (1987). American paradise

Barrell, J. (2009). The dark side of the landscape.

Rosenblum, R. and Janson, H. (2004). Art of the nineteenth century: Paintings and Sculptures.

Novak, B. (2007). American painting of the nineteenth century.

Broder, P. (1980). Great paintings of the Old American West.

I was advised to seek connections between the Hudson River School and the national identity of America, how it helped to develop the awareness of being American. The historical context section was approved by various tutors. 

During the tutorial, an interesting paragraph was found:

“Going back to the 1850s and 60s, there were two basic strands of thoughts about how to create a utopia, Robbins explained. One theory espoused a return to nature, which would allow people’s essential natural goodness to emerge apart from to degrading effects of industrial civilisation. The other branch of thought favoured setting up new, humanistic rules for conduct and organisation of the social grant”.

This week’s physical practice was print-making. It was an experiment about the powerful cultural icon of a particular region.

I chose Mount St Michael as the symbol of the western shore of the Mount’s Bay. It recorded a transaction from a blurred, uncertain aware of indigenous cultural background to the monumentalisation of a specific landscape. It is interesting to see how a combination of artificial construction and natural elements formed a landscape which significantly enhanced the image of this geographic location. 

Some very inspiring pictures from Picasso’s Paper exhibition at the Royal Academy. They provided me some thoughts on monumentalise objects. I wonder whether I can entre this institution one day?

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