The Hudson River School is a term used to describe American artists who were painting the suibject of landscapes of the area around the Hudson River Valley in the state of New York in the mid-1800's, roughly the same time period as the advent of the Impressionists in France. These painters depicted romantic landscapes where Americans were exploring, settling, and living peacefully in harmony with nature. The Hudson River school artists were the Ralph Waldo Emerson/Henry Thoreaus of the art world.
Thomas Cole is generally recognized as the first of the "Hudson River School" painters; Asher Durand and Albert Bierstadt are other well-known artists affiliated with this group. The irony of the Hudson River School painters and their subject matter is that they were depicting the romance and beauty of the American wilderness even as Northern states continued to speedily industrialize its cities and begin to chip away at the agricultural lifestyles of many Americans.