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Rocky Coast

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.


c. 1860


John Frederick Kensett
American, 1816–1872

About this artwork

Like the Impressionists, who emphasized light effects, painters of the Hudson River School focused on temporal conditions of the landscape to suggest specific atmospheres. In Rocky Coast, John Frederick Kensett depicted the shoreline on a hazy day, with calm water and gentle waves. The careful treatment of nature by the Hudson River School artists has been linked to the writings of Transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote in Nature (1836): “Standing on the bare ground,—my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space,—all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball. I am nothing. I see all.” The horizon line of Rocky Coast illustrates this idea, as the uninterrupted water appears infinite, suggesting that the ocean continues beyond the vision of the viewer.


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Arts of the Americas


John Frederick Kensett


Rocky Coast


United States


c. 1860


Oil on canvas


35.6 × 61 cm (14 × 24 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Brooks McCormick

Reference Number


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