Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thomas Hill painting chosen for Obama's Inaugural Lunch

"View of Yosemite Valley" by Thomas Hill (American, 1829-1908) was the painting chosen for President Obama's inaugural luncheon on Tuesday. The painting, on loan from the New York Historical Society, had the place of honor behind the head table in Stuatuary Hall.

This work of art reflects the majestic landscape of the American West and the dawn of a new era. The subject of the painting, Yosemite Valley, represents an important but often overlooked event from Lincoln's presidency—his signing of the 1864 Yosemite Grant, which set aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias as a public reserve.
This painting is of special importance to our community, since Thomas Hill came from the Hudson River School painters and had a background in classical training. The Hudson River Fellowship, a program affiliated with GCA/Water Street Atelier and founded by Jacob Collins, is seeking to build a new movement of American art today, modeled after the artistsic, social and spiritual values of the Hudson River School painters. The goals of this new fellowship program aim to bring back the skills and spirit of the pre-impressionist landscape painters. The program focuses on careful study of nature while nurturing a renewed reverence for the land. Ideally, these artists and their beautiful representations of nature will help to lead the culture back to a stronger connection to the landscape. The school seeks to make a contribution both to the art world and the conservation movement.

Here is a video clip showing the painting. About 3 minutes into it Dianne Feinstein starts talking about the painting and why it was chosen.