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2009 Inaugural Luncheon

President: Barack H. Obama

Vice President: Joseph R. Biden, Jr. 


View of the Yosemite Valley
by Thomas Hill
Oil on canvas, 1865
New-York Historical Society, Gift of Charles T. Harbeck


View of the Yosemite Valley, by Thomas Hill, reflects the majestic landscape of the American West and the dawn of a new era. As the country struggled to emerge from the turmoil of the Civil War, many Americans looked West for hope and inspiration. Artists such as Hill, Albert Bierstadt, and Thomas Moran painted the vast, open Western landscape with a beauty and grandeur that seemed to eloquently evoke America's future: a land of opportunity, optimism, and freedom.

Thomas Hill (1829-1908) appears to have first visited the Yosemite Valley in August 1865. He explored uncharted areas, making numerous oil sketches that he used to create his monumental vistas on canvas. His paintings struck a chord with Americans, and he became one of the most popular landscape artists of the nineteenth century.

View of the Yosemite Valley, displayed above the head table, was loaned from the New-York Historical Society in New York City.