Title

Spiritual seascapes : finding God in the waters of John Frederick Kensett

Abstract

The Hudson River School was the first cohesive art movement in the United States of America. Using the uncultivated American landscape as their subject matter, members sought to convey a moral or religious message in their work. They believed that the main function of art should be to serve God. Stemming from its roots in theology and literature, this transcendental philosophy posited that one could be closer to God by experiencing his work. If God had created nature, than the vastness and power of nature are direct reflections of His power.

While many artists of the Hudson River School used mountainous scenes of the American West in order to allow their viewers to glimpse the divine, one artist, John Frederick Kensett (1816-1872) deviated from the typical Hudson River School subject matter and favored eastern seascapes over the valleys of the west. Kensett's unique perspective led him to use the ocean as a spiritual device in a way that contributed greatly to the diversity of the Hudson River School. His asymmetrical, reduced compositions resulted from his taste for simplicity, and produced a purer, tranquil atmosphere, which allow for greater reflection. Kensett was able to remain true to his tastes rather than producing generic works typical of the Hudson River School, all the while continuing to accomplish the same level of transience as more prominent artists.

Notes

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Thesis Completion

2009

Semester

Spring

Advisor

Martin, Francis

Degree

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

College

College of Arts and Humanities

Degree Program

Art History

Subjects

Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic;Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities

Format

Print

Identifier

DP0022340

Language

English

Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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