The mid-nineteenth century in American art saw the emergence of the first true "school" in the country, meaning the first example of a group of American painters who shared a viewpoint and style. The "Hudson River School" was a movement of landscape painters whose obvious influences from Romanticism could be seen in their paintings of the Hudson River Valley and mountain regions of New York, additionally later generations of the School would paint images of the American West in the same style.
The group of painters would be identified for their use of the effects of light, mist, clouds and weather to add drama to the landscape scenes. Their particular focus on water and light would lead to the development of the style later known as "Luminism".
Each of the artists would travel extensively, gathering images and sketches that would later serve as a portion of their scene or subject. This was incredibly adventurous at the time since trans-continental travel was arduous and difficult and many of the areas they painted were uninhabited and remote.
Frequently the scenes they painted would be combinations of several elements or images from their travels, enhanced with effects of light and shadow to bring them even more drama than they had naturally.
The Hudson River School had three distinct "themes" that appeared frequently in their works, the first focused on exploration and discovery, the second on nature as a hospitable place for humans and third that God was manifest in the American landscape.
The most well known painters of the School included Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Doughty, Sanford Robinson Gifford, William Hart, Worthington Whittredge and Thomas Hill among others.