By Ellen And Aly



Transcendentalism first arose among liberal New England

Congregationalists who were seeking a departure from

Calvinism, and the bleak Puritan belief that inner human depravity is ultimately inescapable

Many ideals of transcendentalism parallel closely with both predecessors German romanticism and Buddhism

Early transcendentalists believed steadfastly in the importance of human striving and pursuing a logic-based life, rejecting organized religion, pre-destination, and


Begins to take flight in Concord, New England in the 1830’s

Transcendentalism revolved around a passionate spiritual and intellectual idealism within man

High regard was given to the concerns of “the individual”, and his personal quest for spiritual awakening; man must be self-directed along these travels

Institutions that hinder human spirit and potential must be thoroughly rejected; many transcendentalists were abolitionists

Nature is an eternal entity; it belongs to no one, but it is there for everyone. The natural world is a reflection of

God’s divinity, a place of worship in itself

Transcendentalists rejected modern society, claiming its values and morals to be corrupt

Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Born May 25 th

, 1803, in the largely Puritan town of

Boston, MA

Became close with several female family members who influenced his intellectual growth after the early death of his father

Kept various journals throughout his youth, documenting his observations

Graduated from Harvard College in 1821

After beginning Harvard Divinity School in 1825, Emerson began explicitly questioning religion; this was intensified after the death of his wife, Ellen Louisa Tucker

After Tucker’s death, married Lydia Jackson; settled in Concord, MA and raised children

Emerson’s Nature, a book of passionate essays that reflect themes of self-awareness, spiritual transience, and the pivotal beauty of the natural world, was published in 1836

Emerson became a voice for those seeking inner fulfillment and liberation from religious overbear

Even after his death in 1882, Emerson’s legacy continued(s) to shine on

Henry David Thoreau

Born in 1817, in Concord, MA

An academic prodigy from an early age, Thoreau journeyed onward to Harvard, enrolling at the tender age of 16

A lifelong friend of Emerson’s

Started a tiny progressive school; the institution terminated after the death of his brother, John

Emerson encouraged Thoreau to keep lengthy journals documenting his various passions and great intellectual promise

Lived in periods of solitude on a piece of land owned by Emerson; built a cabin, planted a garden, practiced meditation

Dies in 1862 at the young age of 44

Thoreau’s life span encouraged, and continues to inspire, nature writing, meditation, and spiritual fulfillment.

His works instigated lasting social, political, and spiritual impacts.

Artist from the school painted both landscapes and allegories.

The Hudson River School was America's first true artistic fraternity.

Its name was created to identify a group of

New York City-based landscape painters that emerged about 1850 under the influence of

Thomas Cole and flourished until about the time of the Centennial.

Cole is regarded as the "father" or "founder" of the school. He was the teacher of Frederic

Edwin Church.

Major Artist of the school:

Thomas Cole

Frederic Edwin Church

Albert Bierstadt

Jasper Francis Cropsey

The school was forgotten by the time Church and Bierstadt died.

Declined after the Civil War when the art style started to change.

Painting altered with the influence of the softer, more intimate French Barbizon style first adapted to American scenery by George


Born: July 26, 1796, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Died: December 23, 1872, Jersey City, New Jersey.

He was a painter of American Indian Culture

Catlin resolved to use his art "in rescuing from oblivion the looks and customs of the vanishing races of native man in America."

Between 1832 and 1836, he made a series of trips into

Indian territory up the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers resulting in over 600 paintings of Indian portraits, landscapes, ceremonies, and daily rituals.

Catlin titled the collection his "Indian Gallery" which was exhibited in major cities on the East Coast.

John James Audubon (1785 - 1851) was born in Les Cayes,

Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), and died in New York City.

Audubon spent more than a decade in business, eventually traveling down the Ohio River to western

Kentucky - then the frontier.

He drew birds as a hobby.

“With no other prospects, Audubon set off on his epic quest to depict America's avifauna, with nothing but his gun, artist's materials, and a young assistant. Floating down the Mississippi, he lived a rugged hand-to-mouth existence in the South”.

Twenty-two of the original 435 Havell plates represent birds Audubon observed and painted in Florida in 1831 -


George Caleb Bingham was born on March 20, 1811, in Augusta

County, Virginia.

Died on July 7, 1879, in Kansas City.

George Caleb Bingham was a Missouri artist and politician. During his lifetime, he was known as “the Missouri Artist.”

Growing up along the Missouri River, Bingham had vivid mental pictures of life on the river.

“ Bingham had strong beliefs about democracy and politics in

America. He often used his artistic skills to portray his political views, and some of his political paintings are some of his most important compositions. As early as 1840, Bingham sketched and painted artful political banners for his political party, the Whigs.

During his career, he also painted notable political figures such as

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, John

Quincy Adams, and Senator Thomas Hart Benton”.

"Hudson River School." Met Musem. Web. 21 Nov. 2011.


"Transendentalism." Web. 21 Nov. 2011.


Veith, Gene E. Painters of Faith. Washington

D.C: Regnery, 2001. Print.

Koster, Donald N. Transcendentalism in America. New England:

G.K Hall and, 1975.

Barbour, Brian M., ed. American Transcendentalism An Anthology of

Criticism. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame, 1973.


Kaplan, Nathaniel, and Thomas Katsaros. Origins of American

Transcendentalism In Philosphy and Mysticism. New Haven, Conn:

College & UP, 1975. Print.

Audubon, John J. Delineations of American Scenery and Character.

London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent &, 1926. Print.

Tyler, Ron. Audubon's Great National Work. Austin, Texas: Universit of Texas, 1993. Print

Shapiro, Michael E., Barbara Groseclose, Elizabeth Johns, Paul C.

Nagel, and John Wilmerding. George Caleb Bingham. New York:

Saint Louis Art Museum in Association with Harry N. Abrams,

1990. Print.

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