Chiura Obata

In the San Francisco Bay Area, Chiura Obata was the most prominent practitioner of the modern nihonga (Japanese painting) movement, which sought to reconcile the practices of traditional Japanese and contemporary European schools of art. Accompanied by his wife, Haruko Kohashi, who helped introduce ikebana (the art of flower arrangement) to the Bay Area, Obata gave hundreds of public lectures and demonstrations that introduced audiences to Japanese art and aesthetics.

Thomas Cole

In 1825 Thomas Cole made his first trip up the Hudson River to the Catskill Mountains, finding the subject with which he secured his reputation as a great painter of the American landscape. Cole’s journey coincided with the growth of tourism and trade in the region, and he blazed a trail for other Hudson River School painters who portrayed this landscape as an American Eden.

Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe used modernist devices, such as cropping, to inspire wonder in the natural world. She is perhaps best known for her flower paintings, which explore color and form and challenge the tradition of metaphorical still-life painting. Her monumental blossoms suggest personal narratives, elaborate metaphors, and the artist’s pursuit of truth through beauty.

Winslow Homer

When the Civil War began in April 1861, Winslow Homer was appointed an “artist correspondent” by Harper’s Weekly. Over the next few years, he witnessed life in the Union army firsthand. Many of the sketches he made served as the basis for illustrations published in Harper‘s, but toward the end of the war Homer also used them for his own paintings.

Asher Brown Durand

Born in New Jersey, Asher Brown Durand began his artistic career as the apprentice to a silversmith and watchmaker. In 1825 he helped establish what would later become the National Academy of Design. Durand began painting more actively, and he went on to befriend Thomas Cole. Durand and Cole became sketching companions, exploring New England and the Adirondacks on various sketching trips. He actively promoted painting outdoors and learning from a direct study of nature.

Sanford Robinson Gifford

Sanford Robinson Gifford grew up across the river from the Catskill home of the influential landscape painter Thomas Cole, and he learned to paint in the tradition of the Hudson River School. Gifford traveled widely throughout the American west, the East Coast, Europe, and the Middle East in search of landscape subjects. His subtle, light-suffused landscapes led him to be associated with a style of Hudson River School landscape painting termed “luminism” by 20th-century critics.

Thomas Birch

Thomas Birch’s father, William Russell Birch, was a well-known painter of miniatures. Father and son left England together, arriving in Philadelphia in 1794, where they established the engraving firm William Birch & Son. Thomas Birch later established his own artistic career as a pioneer of American landscape painting, earning a reputation for his marine pictures and his sea-battle scenes of the War of 1812.

John George Brown

John George Brown decided to leave his native England after hearing a music hall performer sing about life in America. In the decades following the Civil War, he became one of the most popular and commercially successful artists in the United States. Brown was best known for his paintings of the young newsboys and shoeshine boys he met on the streets of New York City, which earned him the nickname "the Boot Black Raphael.

Frederic Edwin Church

Frederic Edwin Church was encouraged to pursue his interest in art at a young age. The only student of Thomas Cole, Church favored a detailed realism derived from a close study of nature. Cole taught him to consider the landscape as both a manifestation of God’s creation and a vehicle for the expression of nationalist ideals. Church traveled widely in search of grand panoramic landscapes and natural monuments, creating imaginative and theatrical paintings upon returning to his New York studio.

Worthington Whittredge

Born in a log cabin in Ohio, Worthington Whittredge traveled to Germany in 1849 to study painting with Emanuel Leutze at the Düsseldorf Academy. He remained in Europe for 10 years before returning to the United States, settling in New York City and becoming a major figure of the Hudson River School. Despite living in a major city, Whittredge returned again and again to the subject of American landscapes and forest interiors.