Natural Histories: On View in the American Paintings and Sculpture Galleries

A view of an installation in a gallery with wooden floors and dark-red walls. Paintings hang alongside a single panel of text. A doorway is visible at far left, and a bench stands in the middle of the room.

View of the installation Natural Histories

Developed in consultation with faculty in the Yale School of the Environment, Natural Histories explores ten 19th-century landscape paintings from the Gallery’s collection in the light of historical land use in America. Landscape painting emerged as a vibrant practice in the United States during the mid-19th century and became emblematic of American art both here and abroad. By that time, old-growth forests of the Northeast, where most of the country’s artists worked, had been depleted by centuries of logging and agricultural development. The artists whose works are on view integrated aesthetic considerations and extensive study of the natural world to create stories of change, loss, and vulnerability that were understood by their original viewers and continue to resonate today.

The installation is on display in the Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation Galleries.