One of the most treasured paintings in American art, Kindred Spirits (1849) by Asher B. Durand, will be on view at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art this spring. The painting, on loan from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, Ark.), will hang concurrently with the museum’s special exhibition, The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision, from February 26–June 19, 2011. Admission is free to the museum and the special exhibition.
Beginning in the 1820s, the American landscape became a significant theme for artists who traveled up the Hudson River from New York City to sketch the rugged mountains and tranquil valleys along its banks. With the noted landscape painter Thomas Cole as their inspirational leader, these artists gave impetus to the first self-consciously “American” vision for landscape painting, a movement that would become known as the Hudson River School.
In Kindred Spirits, Durand, a Hudson River School artist, depicts Cole with his close friend and colleague William Cullen Bryant, the esteemed poet and editor. The painting was commissioned by art patron Jonathan Sturges as a tribute to Cole following his death in 1848 at age 47. Invoking John Keats’ Sonnet VII, Durand portrays Cole and Bryant together as “kindred spirits” in the landscape. After the painting was complete, Sturges gifted the work to Bryant.
In 1904, Bryant’s daughter Julia gave Kindred Spirits to the New York Public Library in Manhattan, where it hung on public view for more than a century before being deaccessioned and acquired by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
“The painting is glorious,” says Chris Crosman, chief curator at Crystal Bridges. “While our museum is under construction, we are thrilled that audiences can view the masterpiece in the Amon Carter’s galleries.”
The timing also coincides with the Amon Carter’s 50th Anniversary year. “How fitting that we can show such an iconic American painting during a milestone year for the museum,” says Rebecca Lawton, curator of paintings and sculpture at the Amon Carter. “We are grateful to Crystal Bridges for loaning us the work, which symbolizes our mutual dedication to presenting masterpieces of American art to audiences who may otherwise never have the opportunity to enjoy them.”
Additional works by Hudson River School artists, such as Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, Jasper Francis Cropsey and George Inness, are on view in the Amon Carter’s permanent collection throughout the year.