Jasper Francis Cropsey Schatacook Mountain Painting


The Schatacook Mountain, Housatonic Valley, Connecticut painting is a product of Jasper Francis Cropsey who was born in February 18, 1823 in Rossville, Staten Island, New York. His style of painting was significantly under the influence of his upbringing, bearing in mind that he grew up in the countryside. The painting Schatacook Mountain was done in 1845, Oil on canvas, 78 x 118 cm and currently found in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


Artists usually paint sceneries where the sun is observable, either rising or while it is setting. In this painting, however, Cropsey does not include the sun in the scenery. The painting is short of the brightness of midday neither the mist of the morning nor any signs of the break of dawn. It is clear that the artist did this painting in the evening. This is given that it has elements of light at the background. However, the painting is dull with slight illumination.

In this painting, Cropsey shows a clear perception of the effects of atmosphere while also manifesting a huge passion for landscape. It is vivid the picture represents an evening with a clear blue sky, a small number of clouds in the background and some light giving a weak indication of the sun. There is majestic use of colors which makes this painting outstanding.

The painting not only provides a vivid description of nature, but it also portrays a burning desire of the artist to celebrate American scenery. This piece of painting closely compares with his other famous paintings such as The View of Capri painted in 1848 and Fisherman’s House, Greenwood Lake (New Jersey) painted in 1877. Cropsey with this landscape painting deviates from his contemporaries who painted portraits. His contemporaries drew inspiration from Europe by painting Roman and Greek ruins. This painting, on the other hand, portrays American scenery, which is an element of nationalism and adoption of nature. The painting shows a clear blue sky apart from a group of white clouds seen at the horizon of the mountain. The valley covers green grassland with patchy trees, and there is a big rock at the forefront of the painting.

The Schatacook Mountain was named after Native Americans who spent their life at the foot of the mountain. These natives served as scouts during the revolution. The painting, therefore, is an acknowledgment of the Native Americans as well as respect for their culture. It also plays an important role in racial integration by making natives part of American history.

In my opinion, the painting is silent on gender roles, family and slavery.

This is a realist form of painting. Cropsey painted the scenery with no attempt to change it. The mountain, the trees, the valley, the green grass seen in the middle of the painting, the rocks and the clear blue sky with a number of white clouds are what he saw in that summer of 1845. There is an element of sentimentalism from the first view of the painting. It may appear dark but, there exists a clear attempt to bring light to the painting. On the other hand, with a keen look at the white clouds at the horizon there seem to be weak rays from the sun as it sets.

The painting is of Schatacook Mountain, Housatonic Valley, Connecticut which is an indication of nature, and a celebration of America, with the explicit and beautiful scenery. The implicit meaning is that of spirituality. Human beings experience spirituality through interaction with nature which this painting explicitly indicates. This is with trees and the mountain which in some cultures hold divine power.

The painting has a political inclination. This is in connection with history, in particular, the naming of the mountain after the natives who were scouts to the continental army during the revolution. There is an acknowledgment of the contribution by natives during the struggle for independence and the consequent establishment of the United States.

Sarah Burns at the Bark Side argues against the common argument that gothic painters reject bright landscapes and cheerful scenes in their paintings. While her argument, that realists are also victims of painting marginal and pervasive, is absolutely different. The painting depicts plenty of light and life, with elements of racial integration from the painter.

The painting concurs with Alan Wallachia’s theory of American landscape painting because of the following reasons.

  1. The painting is a representation of a mountain, of an inland prairie and has trees.
  2. It has scenery or tract of land which distinguishes nature from objects.

Conversely, Cropsey painted every year of his life and spent some time moving around the United States doing paintings of great scenes. This painting drew his uncensored truth and honest lifestyle. This entails how he preferred scenes of nature with elements of spirituality.


The Schatacook Mountain, Housatonic Valley, Connecticut painting done by Jasper Francis Cropsey is a masterpiece celebrated in all major museums across the country. His depiction of the American scenery is remarkable. The blend of spirituality and racial integration is evident in the painting. While most American painters of his time chose to paint portraits, he championed the landscape which is synonymous with American literature.

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