The Anatomy of Nature: Geology & American Landscape Painting, 1825-1875

Rebecca Bedell

ISBN 10: 0691074631 / ISBN 13: 9780691074634
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Geology was in vogue in nineteenth-century America. People crowded lecture halls to hear geologists speak, and parlor mineral cabinets signaled social respectability and intellectual engagement. This was also the heyday of the Hudson River School, and many prominent landscape painters avidly studied geology. Thomas Cole, Asher Durand, Frederic Church, John F. Kensett, William Stanley Haseltine, Thomas Moran, and other artists read scientific texts, participated in geological surveys, and carried rock hammers into the field to collect fossils and mineral specimens. As they crafted their paintings, these artists drew on their geological knowledge to shape new vocabularies of landscape elements resonant with moral, spiritual, and intellectual ideas.


Rebecca Bedell contributes to current debates about the relationship among art, science, and religion by exploring this phenomenon. She shows that at a time when many geologists sought to disentangle their science from religion, American artists generally sidestepped the era's more materialist science, particularly Darwinism. They favored a conservative, Christianized geology that promoted scientific study as a way to understand God. Their art was both shaped by and sought to preserve this threatened version of the science. And, through their art, they advanced consequential social developments, including westward expansion, scenic tourism, the emergence of a therapeutic culture, and the creation of a coherent and cohesive national identity.


This major study of the Hudson River School offers an unprecedented account of the role of geology in nineteenth-century landscape painting. It yields fresh insights into some of the most influential works of American art and enriches our understanding of the relationship between art and nature, and between science and religion, in the nineteenth century. It will draw a broad audience of art historians, Americanists, historians of science, and readers interested in the American natural landscape.


From the Back Cover:

"Rebecca Bedell has unearthed a wealth of new material, and she has produced what will no doubt be the authoritative work on the subject for the foreseeable future. Her well-informed book is a major contribution to the understanding of Hudson River School landscape painting and the complex interrelationship between art and science in mid-nineteenth-century America."--Alan Wallach, The College of William and Mary


"I unequivocally and enthusiastically recommend this book. It is an excellent piece of scholarship--thorough, well researched, richly nuanced. It presents an original and persuasive reinterpretation of ideas and images that have long been considered central to American cultural history. The chapters on Cole, Church, and Durand are full of fresh observations and fill in missing connections about the relationship between high culture, popular culture, and the burgeoning science of geology . . . There is no question that this is an important book, and a valuable addition to the study of nineteenth-century American landscape painting."--Gray Sweeney, Arizona State University


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Title: The Anatomy of Nature: Geology & American ...
Publication Date: 2001
Book Condition: Fair

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Bedell, Rebecca
Published by Princeton University Press, U.S.A. (2001)
ISBN 10: 0691074631 ISBN 13: 9780691074634
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Book Description Princeton University Press, U.S.A., 2001. Boards. Book Condition: Acceptable. Dust Jacket Condition: Acceptable. 1st Edition. First edition. Ex-Library hardcover with dust jacket. 4to oblong with 185 pages. The book and dust jacket are in acceptable condition. Usual Ex-Library stamps and stickers. Other than tearing to verso of front cover, the interior is clean and tight. The spine is faded blue image wrapped with black and white text. Size: 4to OBLONG. Ex-Library. Bookseller Inventory # 025972

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Book Description Princeton Univ Pr, Ewing, New Jersey, U.S.A., 2001. Hard Cover. Book Condition: As New. Dust Jacket Condition: As New. Like brand new copy in a fine dust jacket. 31 color plates, 55 black-and-white illustrations. 185 pp. Bookseller Inventory # 000460

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