This large work was painted only two years after Weber immigrated to the United States from Germany. Weber began exhibiting works at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1849 and continued to exhibit there throughout his career. The subject shows a rich, shadowy woodland interior with a stream and a vignette of a solitary hunter at rest with his gun and dog. The landscape conveys the notion of forest interior as natural sanctuary, a primeval cathedral. Many artists of the Hudson River School captured a sense of the divine, envisioning the pristine American landscape as a great new Garden of Eden. The subject of the “primeval forest” was taken up by other painters of the 19th century, most famously by Asher B. Durand. Poet William Cullen Bryant described the primeval forest in “A Forest Hymn”, (1824):

The groves were God’s first temples.
Ere man learned
To hew the shaft and lay the architrave
And spread the roof above them--ere he framed
The lofty vault, to gather and roll back
The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood
Amidst the cool and silence, he knelt down,
And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks
And supplication.


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