Francis Guy (1760–1820) Rhinebeck Landing, Hudson River, about 1817–20 Oil on canvas, 39 1/2 x 66 in.
Predating the Hudson River School, this extraordinarily rare, early American landscape gives us a wonderful glimpse of life on the Hudson during the second decade of the 19th century. Depicting the town of Rhinebeck, New York, the topographical elements are expertly blended with atmospheric effects that suggest something of an eerie tranquility, an element that is latent in much of the mythology of the Hudson. This is the world recorded by Washington Irving, and Guy’s picture—painted at the height of his powers—is an important, newly-discovered pictorial account of it, deftly executed and infused with the quiet Romanticism that would later inform our Transcendentalists, not to mention the Hudson River School artists that were soon to follow. —Brendan Ryan, Associate, President’s Office