Hudson River Scene, 1857
John Frederick Kensett (American, 1816–1872)
Oil on canvas; 32 x 48 in. (81.3 x 121.9 cm)
Gift of H. D. Babcock, in memory of S. D. Babcock, 1907 (07.162)
Kensett's early work included many views of the Hudson River, and in 1854 he wrote warmly to his uncle of a recent visit to the "highlands of the Hudson, which I think for their peculiar beauty there is nothing to surpass." Indeed, this particular prospect, from the foot of Fort Putnam (of Revolutionary War vintage) north to Breakneck Mountain at left and Crowsnest and Mount Taurus above Cold Spring at right, had long since earned iconic status thanks to the Englishman William Bartlett's engraving of the same view illustrated in American Scenery, published a generation earlier. As he often did in the many paintings of popular American resorts that he produced throughout his career, Kensett included in the foreground the diminutive figures of genteel tourists, perhaps enjoying a picnic on the slope of this overlook above the West Point parade grounds.