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College Hill, Poughkeepsie, New York

Not on view

College Hill, Poughkeepsie, New York

Artist: William Stanley Haseltine (American, 1835 - 1900)

Date: 1860
Medium: Graphite, black ink and wash on greenish, buff-colored, medium-weight wove paper
Overall: 15 1/16 x 21 1/2in. (38.3 x 54.6cm)
Inscribed: Recto, lower right (graphite): "College Hill - / Poughkeepsi - 1 / 60" Lower left (graphite): "174" Verso, lower right (blue ink): "College Hill - Poughkeepsie 1860 / by Wm S Haseltine -"
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Helen Haseltine Plowden
Object number: 61.58
Text Entries

In 1860 Haseltine made his first known expedition to the Hudson River Valley, a district ennobled by its association in previous decades with America’s first native landscapists.(1) Although the Hudson River School painters, as they came to be known in later years, worked in other parts of New England as well, their depictions of the woodland scenery bordering the Hudson bestowed on the area a kind of esthetic resonance that no doubt inspired the twenty—five-year-old Haseltine to follow in the footsteps of Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, John F. Kensett, and their colleagues.

The exact site of the MWPI drawing is identified by the artist’s customarily thorough inscription. College Hill, Poughkeepsie lies on the east bank of the Hudson some sixty miles north of Haseltine’s Tenth Street studio in New York City. Based on a closely related drawing of similar dimensions made near Hyde Park, a few miles north, the work can be comfortably dated to late June or early July.(2) Like other contemporary landscape painters, Haseltine spent his summers gathering subject matter in the form of drawings and oil sketches that could be worked up into paintings during winters spent back in the studio.(3) In this panoramic drawing made from an elevated vantage point, Haseltine carefully mapped out the gently undulating terrain before him with topographical accuracy, but he left the details of foliage schematic and much of the paper untouched. According to his usual working method, he sketched the composition in graphite, added shading, texture, and definition in layers of monochromatic wash, and finally outlined some features of the landscape—the profile of the distant Palisades and the clusters of trees on the near bank—in pen and ink. While the large areas of reserve paper and the bits of hastily defined foliage in the foreground may make the drawing look unfinished, sheets like this were working drawings, intended not for sale or exhibition but as private records of a given site for the artist’s eyes and use only.

Unlike many who painted in the region, Haseltine did not return to the soft contours and rolling hills of the Hudson River Valley year after year.(4) By 1862 the artist’s attention reverted to his enduring preoccupation—the bolder, more dramatic aspect of nature found along rocky seacoasts, both in New England and abroad.


(Andrea Henderson Fahnestock)

1. For further information on Haseltine’s life and work, both in America and abroad after his expatriation in 1866, see Marc Simpson, Andrea Henderson, and Sally Mills, Expressions of Place: The Art of William Stanley Haseltine (San Francisco: The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1992).

2. Near Hyde Park, Hudson River, inscribed 3 July 1860, in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; illustrated in ibid., 15, fig. 1.

3. Although only two finished oil paintings of the area appear to have been completed by Haseltine (Hudson River Landscape, private collection, Kansas City, Kans.; and Slopes toward the Hudson River, unlocated), a number of on-site oil sketches exist, including Hudson River near Hyde Park (Trinity College, Hartford, Conn.) which, despite its misleading title, conforms almost exactly to the terrain depicted in College Hill, Poughkeepsie, New York.

4. Based on a drawing dated 1861 of Cold Spring, New York (David Nisinson, New York, N.Y.), Haseltine sketched along the Hudson the year after making the MWPI drawing, but he appears never to have returned.


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