Artist Eliza Pratt Graetorex subject of Cole House Sunday Salon

At the lower end of the Catskills, in southwestern Ulster County, where the Catskills meet the Shawangunk Ridge — a mountainous-type terrain that runs from the Lake Mohonk and Minnewaska area down to Port Jervis, where it then continues as the Blue Mountains on the other side of the Delaware Water Gap — there is a small community called Cragsmoor that is nestled on top of the highest point in the Shawangunks, which enjoys scenery that rivals that from the Catskill escarpment and the old Catskill Mountain House vista.

Because of its locale, Cragsmoor — like Palenville — enjoyed an early period as an artists’ colony, with names like E. L. Henry, Frederick Dellenbaugh, George Inness, and, later on, Charles Courtney Curran bringing the attention of the nation to the raw beauty and majestic landscape that is literally perched atop Ordovician pebble soil — a distinctly different look and feel to the lay of the land than anywhere else in the Hudson Valley.

It houses the world’s only high elevation dwarf pitch pine forest and — once embraced within a 20th century tourist facility called Ice Caves Mountain — the adjoining lookout from Sam’s Point is today part of the 5,400 acre Sam’s Point Preserve, owned by the Open Space Institute and managed by the Nature Conservancy.

A woman surfaces in the Hudson River landscape




Greatorex’s story will be told Sunday by City University of New York Professor Katherine Manthorne, whose specialty is, in fact, 19th century female artists, and who has a wealth of knowledge on Greatorex.


Among many other accomplishments, Manthorne has served as head of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Research Center, and was executive editor of American Art.

She has authored “Creation & Renewal: Views of Cotopaxi by Frederic Edwin Church,” “Tropical Renaissance: North American Artists Exploring Latin America,” and is co-author of “Luminist Horizons: The Art and Collection of James A. Suydam” and “The Landscapes of Louis Remy Mignot: A Southern Painter Abroad,” plus others.

Among the exhibitions Manthorne has curated is last year’s “Home on the Hudson,” a distinctive collection of artwork featuring 19th century Hudson Valley artists’ homes and landscapes at Boscobel, in Garrison, held in observance of the valley’s 400th anniversary.

Manthorne’s presentation Sunday will be highlights from her upcoming monograph on Greatorex, and is a prelude to Cedar Grove’s 2010 exhibition, “Remember the Ladies: Women of the Hudson River School,” which will open in May.

Widowed early on with two small children, Greatorex developed her painting talent with formal training here and abroad, to produce works that now hang in museums around the globe, and whose quality is also reflected by the firm dollar they bring at auction houses.

In 1869, Greatorex was the first female to be admitted to the NYC-based National Academy of Design, and many of her works feature historic structures of the early NYC area during their last days before disappearing with the onset of the 20th century.

Although a world traveler who captured scenes from both Old World and New, from Germany to Colorado, Greatorex also has a strong tie to the Hudson Valley.

At the lower end of the Catskills, in southwestern Ulster County, where the Catskills meet the Shawangunk Ridge — a mountainous-type terrain that runs from the Lake Mohonk and Minnewaska area down to Port Jervis, where it then continues as the Blue Mountains on the other side of the Delaware Water Gap — there is a small community called Cragsmoor that is nestled on top of the highest point in the Shawangunks, which enjoys scenery that rivals that from the Catskill escarpment and the old Catskill Mountain House vista.

Because of its locale, Cragsmoor — like Palenville — enjoyed an early period as an artists’ colony, with names like E. L. Henry, Frederick Dellenbaugh, George Inness, and, later on, Charles Courtney Curran bringing the attention of the nation to the raw beauty and majestic landscape that is literally perched atop Ordovician pebble soil — a distinctly different look and feel to the lay of the land than anywhere else in the Hudson Valley.

It houses the world’s only high elevation dwarf pitch pine forest and — once embraced within a 20th century tourist facility called Ice Caves Mountain — the adjoining lookout from Sam’s Point is today part of the 5,400 acre Sam’s Point Preserve, owned by the Open Space Institute and managed by the Nature Conservancy.

In short, the Shawangunk Ridge near Cragsmoor is an artist’s delight, and it was just so for Greatorex, who along with her two artist daughters, lived there for a time during the 1870’s and 80’s, and was apparently one of its original participants.

The overview above is just that. The Feb. 7 Sunday Salon at Cedar Grove presents an excellent chance to learn about one of the 19th century’s unsung lights of the Hudson River art world from a 21st century researcher who is working to bring Greatorex back onto center stage where she belongs.

During her time, an art critic described Greatorex as the “First Artist of her Sex in America,” and it is from that appellation that Sunday’s presentation takes its name.

Attendance is on a first-come-first-served basis, with wine, cheese, and discussion afterwards. Admittance is $8 public, $6 members.

Cedar Grove: The Thomas Cole National Historic site is located at 218 Spring St., Catskill. For more information, call (518) 943-7465.