Jasper Francis Cropsey was a very influential American landscape artist who lived during the 19th century. He was born in the United States of America in the town of Rossville on Staten Island in New York City, New York State, in 1822. He showed a keen interest in sketching and drawing from a very young age, even teaching himself how to draw. His early work often depicting the New York cityscape. He was also very fond of drawing blueprints and architectural sketches, something that would come to influence his work in years to come and led him down the architectural career path.
Cropsey studied to become an architect and once he graduated he created his first company in 1843, and at the age of only twenty one. He decided to take painting lessons in his spare time and studied watercolour painting styles and methods and took life drawing classes at the National Academy of Design as well, where he displayed his first painting the following year, in 1844. By 1845 Cropsey had given up his architectural career in favour of a full time artistic one and was soon elected as an associate member of the National Academy of Design, where he became renowned for his landscape paintings. His first exhibition was at the National Academy of Design and was named Italian Compositions.
In 1847 Cropsey married and set sail for Europe soon after, spending the next few years travelling around Western Europe, visiting England, France, Switzerland and Italy to view the fantastic landscapes there. In 1851 he was made a full member of the National Academy of Design. In 1855 he briefly visited Ann Arbor and painted the Detroit Observatory. Later that same year he and his wife, Maria Cooley settled in London, England and found much success there, displaying his landscapes at the world renowned Royal Academy and at the International Exhibition in 1862. He would stay in London for the next seven years of his life.
Cropsey moved back to the United States, spending his time painting landscapes of the north east U.S.A., particularly Autumn scenes. He resided in New York City, where he built himself an art studio and a mansion with the funds he had acquired from his many painting commissions. In 1866 he became one of the original founders of The American Society of Painters in Watercolours.
Sadly, like many of the greatest artist and painters of the past, Jasper Francis Cropsey was all but forgotten when he died in New York in 1900 at the age of 77. He was buried in Sleepy Hollow New York. However Cropsey's work was rediscovered in the early 1960's and he finally received recognition for being the great landscape artist that he was. Now his landscapes are present in galleries and private collections around the world, most notably there are Cropsey landscapes hanging on the walls of the White House. His works are also on display in many of America's most renowned art museums like the Denver Art Museum, the Princeton University Art Museum, the Timken Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art just to name a few. His old mansion has been converted into a museum offering guided tours documenting Cropsey's life and work.
Known for his precise arrangement and use of bright fall colours, Cropsey's influence on the art world can still be felt today. He is considered to be one of the original members of what is now referred to as the Hudson River School of art, characterized by bold colours, strong lines, and a preference for natural landscapes over portraits or urban scenes. Crops considered natural landscape painting to be the highest form of art.
Some of the most famous works by Jasper Francis Cropsey include: Backwoods of America, Jedburgh Abbey, Old Church at Arreton, Isle of Wight, October in Ramapo Valley, Autumn on Lake George, and A Showery Day, Greenwood Lake, Indian Summer, Autumn on the Hudson, and Spring-time in England.