Duo-Scapes    After Cropsey-the Burning of the Catskill Mountain House

                                After Cropsey      
                      After Cropsey--The Burning of the Catskill Mountain House  2004, 42 x 48", Oil on Board 


With After Cropsey Griffin has endeavored to illustrate the last moments of the most famous of the Hudson River School’s icons.  Cropsey’s painting (below) is repainted on an architecturally conceived set of canted planes that slope inwards.  The burning of the Catskill Mountain House section is actually cantilevered over the larger work—floating in space—as though not to mar its glorious past.

                                          Cropsey's Painting

Jasper Cropsey  (1823-1900) was trained as an architect and worked in that profession until 1845 when he opened up his studio in NYC.  He painted primarily throughout the north east in the Hudson River style.  His brightly colored autumn leaves brought criticism during a show in London where he promptly displayed the real article.  Fall colors in Europe are never so vivid.




                                                                                  Jasper Cropsey, The Catskill Mountain House, 1855, 29 x 44", oil on canvas

While Griffin's works are explorations of Hudson River style masterpieces, she also seek to reinterpret their subjects in a way that acknowledges the passing of time.  "Though we cannot return to the world that these artists depicted, we can reexamine their ideals, and perhaps rejuvenate them for our own, more complex age."

fireWith the coming of the automobile and better roads people were free to vacation at more distant locales and the lure of the Catskills diminished.  After the Depression of 1929 the Catskill Mountain House lost most of its visitors and its essentially 19th Century culture of reflection became a thing of the past. 
A hurricane in 1950 destroyed many of the majestic Corinthian columns that supported the hotel’s front veranda.  Though appeals were made to save the heavily damaged structure as a landmark, it was no longer structurally sound and was left to the elements. 
In 1960 the New York State Parks Department deemed the hotel a public hazard and began dismantling it.  Late one night in January of 1963, after a deep snowfall, the Parks Department set the remaining structure of the hotel alight.
The first and most impressive destination in New York State for artists and travelers alike was reduced to cinders in a matter of hours. As Roland Van Zadt observed: “It met its final hours in an appropriate incantation of sacrificial love and martyrdom.”

Sketch The hotel was situated on the edge of an escarpment that overlooked the Hudson River.  Behind it lay North and South Lake.  Later an Otis incline railroad would take visitors straight up the side of the mountain to the hotel.  (The protruding ledge has since crumbled away into the valley below.)


Further Reading:
The Catskill Mountain House- Cradle of the Hudson River School,  Van Zandt, Ronald; Black Dome Press, 1993
Knights of the Brush- The Hudson River School and the Moral Landscape,   Cooper, James; Hudson Hills Press, 2003