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Thomas Cole

The Falls of
the Kaaterskills

Lake Winnipiseogee

Expulsion - Moon
and Firelight


The Course of Empire-Savage

All images on this page printed on artist's canvas, stretched, ready to frame.

Thomas Cole: Biography

Often considered the father of American landscape painting as well as the founder of the Hudson River School, Thomas Cole emigrated to America from Lancashire, England, when he was age eighteen. After spending a year in Philadelphia, Cole joined his family in the town of Steubenville, Ohio. While in England, Cole had been an apprentice to a designer of calico prints, and in Steubenville, he found work drawing patterns and possibly engraving woodblocks for his father's paper-hanging business. In Steubenville, Cole also began to explore landscape painting after gaining some rudimentary instruction in oil painting from a portrait painter named Stein. In 1823, Cole went with his family to Pittsburgh, where he again became an assistant in his father's business and made landscape sketches in his free time. Cole became dedicated to a career as a landscape painter. He began to consider the distinctive characteristics of American scenery, but it was not until he moved to New York in 1825 that he turned his thoughts to his art. The works he produced after a sketching trip up the Hudson River in the summer of 1825 attracted the attention of New York's prominent artists and patrons. From this time until the end of his career, Cole enjoyed fame as a pre-eminent American landscape painter, and created works that influenced a generation of native artists who followed his lead in focusing on the sublime beauty and grandeur of the country's wilderness scenery. In 1829, Cole became one of the founding members of the National Academy of Design, and departed on a trip to Europe. Traveling through England, France, and Italy, he viewed works by the Old Masters and contemporary artists and explored European landscape sites. A second trip to Italy, from 1831 to 1832, inspired Cole with ideas of exploring high-minded and grand themes. In landscape paintings he created on his return, he expressed the moral issues and lofty ideals that were usually the exclusive domain of history painters. After his return to America, Cole settled in the town of Catskill, New York, but he remained active in the art scene of New York City, keeping ties with fellow artists and collectors.