American StudiesIn 1862, Sanford Robinson Gifford, a member of the Hudson River School, depicted the beauty of the Catskill Mountains in Kauterskill Falls, also known as Kauterskill Clove and A Gorge in the Mountains. Gifford, as a member of the Hudson River School, painted landscapes; the beauty of natureÃÂs landscapes is expressed in A Gorge in the Mountains. He was fascinated by the transfiguring effects of light on native scenery and it is evident in A Gorge in the Mountains, in which the blazing noon sun hovers over an idyllic mountain gorge. This portrays the American theme of ÃÂescaping to wildernessÃÂ and the troubles of the world. Clearly, in this painting, Gifford shows this through the scene of a beautiful, untouched mountain gorge. The glorious yellow rays of sunlight light fill the curved outline of the clove, while the rocks, the birch tree, and the shadows of the mountain continue the arc of the blue sky.
The painting depicts America as a peaceful place complete with serene landscapes and genuine beauty despite the harshness of the time. Another American theme at this time was war. America was in the midst of a harsh Civil War which makes it very interesting that Gifford avoided war-time influence and instead portrayed natureÃÂs beauty. This suggests that Gifford was not interested in the impurities of the world such as war and instead focused on the pureness of the world: nature. The peacefulness exhibited in the painting through the idyllic scene shows that perhaps Gifford was picturing a peaceful day when the war was over and the world free of its impureness. The most peaceful part of the painting, the waterfall, is somewhat far away from where Gifford stood painting the landscape. This suggests that in the midst of this harsh war,