This exhibition seeks to illustrate how Swiss philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) had such a lasting influence on the way people regard nature. Rousseau's ideas, especially those found in his final book, The Reveries of the Solitary Walker, will be shown to support the thesis of his connection as a founder of the "back-to-nature" movement so popular in the nineteenth century and today. Among a variety of themes outlined is that of the "sublime", found in images of local upstate New York natural wonders, and in particular our nearby Trenton Falls. Closer to home, the show will also incorporate two campus landscapes of the Root and Kirkland Glens.
The concept for the show started with the planning for the North American Rousseau Conference coming to Hamilton in June 2005. Professor of French John O'Neal and Associate Professor of Art History Deborah Pokinski provided guidance to student curator Caroline Walsh '05. Loans from the Museum of Art at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute will tell this story while the Emerson Gallery unveils a recent important acquisition, a Hudson River School painting by Daniel Huntington. The show was accompanied by an exhibition catalogue.