JASPER F. CROPSEY1823-1900
Jasper Francis Cropsey is one of the most important painters of the second generation of the Hudson River School. He was born in Rossville on Staten Island and suffered periods of ill health as a boy, during which he taught himself to draw. His early drawings were architectural sketches and landscapes. Cropsey apprenticed for five years with architect Joseph Trench, who encouraged his artistic ability, providing him with studio space and art supplies. By 1842 Cropsey had become a practicing architect, and had also begun to exhibit his paintings. Cropsey admired the work of Thomas Cole, and began to associate himself with what would come to be known as the “Hudson River School.” He and other Hudson River artists felt that landscape painting was the highest art form, due to their belief, shared with the American Transcendentalists, that nature was a direct manifestation of God. This reverence for nature led the Hudson River painters to depict the natural world as accurately as possible. Cropsey made frequent sketching trips to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Catskills of New York, Greenwood Lake, New Jersey, and Newport, Rhode Island. His “Greenwood Lake, Orange County”, completed in 1844 and exhibited at the National Academy of Design, earned Cropsey, at age twenty-one, the youngest associate membership ever awarded by the Academy. In 1847, newly married, Cropsey and his wife traveled to England, France, and Italy, where he studied the paintings and architecture he encountered. The Cropseys returned to America in 1849 and Jasper began a series of painting trips through the Hudson River Valley, Vermont, the White Mountains, and to Niagara Falls. The artist’s architectural training enabled him to expertly render structures such as barns, bridges, churches, and houses. Cropsey was also a great colorist, best known for his depictions of the brilliant autumn foliage of the Northeast. At this time Cropsey also began to paint literary and allegorical scenes. The Cropseys went abroad again in 1856, and lived for the next seven years in England. During this time, Cropsey painted and sketched English landscapes, especially the Dorset Coast and the Isle of Wight. The Cropseys returned to America in 1863. Back home, due to the deprivations of the Civil War, Cropsey found it necessary to supplement their income by accepting painting students and architectural commissions. In 1866 Cropsey designed and built a home and studio in Warwick, New York, named “Aladdin.” With the decline in popularity of American landscape painting in the aftermath of the Civil War, and the rise of European impressionism, Cropsey found himself in 1884 forced to sell “Aladdin” and auction off all his paintings to pay debts. The Cropseys moved to a more modest home, “Ever-Rest,” overlooking the Hudson. Cropsey added a studio to the house, in which he continued to work, mainly in watercolors due to the effects of a stroke, until the end of his life. The Jasper Francis Cropsey Home and Studio “Ever-Rest” at Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, is maintained by the Newington-Cropsey Foundation.