Thomas Cole Life Paintings and Views




Thomas Cole: Life, Paintings, and Views
Landscape painting was an extremely important time during the middle of the nineteenth century. One of the leading practitioners of landscape painters in America was Thomas Cole. He went to many places seeking the natural world in which he used direct observation to show his audience the untainted nature by man. His works helped to find goodness in American land and to help Americans take pride in their unique geological features created by god. Thomas Cole inspired many with his brilliant works by bringing satisfaction among the people who were trying to find “the truth” (realism) through the works of others.
Thomas Cole was born on February 1, 1801 in Bolton, Lancashire, England. Due to financial problems experienced by his family, at the age of fourteen Cole found work as a textile printer and wood engraver in Philadelphia. In 1819, Cole returned to Ohio where his parents resided. Here Cole learned the oil painting techniques of a portrait painter named Stein. During this time Cole was extremely impressed by what he saw in the landscapes of the New World and how different they were from the small town of England where he had come from. Art came to Cole naturally, he taught himself, and one day set out to observe nature and the wilderness. He began painting pictures by first making oil sketches of American rocks, trees, sunsets, plants, animals, as well as distant Indians. From these sketches he formed several paintings. He is famous for his allegorical collection called the “The Course of Empire” and is well-known for


his Landscape paintings, “The Oxbow,” “The Woodchopper,” and “The Clove, Catskills.” In January of 1826, Cole was known for the being the founder of the National Academy of Design.
During this time many people wanted Cole to paint pictures of American scenery for them, but his main goal, he says, was to create a “higher style of landscape that could express moral or religious meanings.” Cole continued to paint and in 1836 he married Maria Barstow and settled in Catskill, New York. Catskill was the place where he sketched a portrait of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River. From these paintings he influenced a lot of other artists such as Frederick Edwin Church along with Albert Bierstadt. Cole died on February 11, 1848 due to an illness and was remembered by many whom he helped to see the true vision of America.
Thomas Cole led the first American school of Landscape, called the Hudson River School. This school included many leading artist such as Asher Brown Durand, Thomas Doughty, as well as the second generation of artists such as Frederick Edwin Church, Sanford Gifford, and Albert Bierstadt. These painters shared a common background. They were Romantic Realists who found great wonders in the countryside of the New World. They searched the Hudson Valley and areas of New England to find unique images of America. These realists combined detailed panoramic images with moralistic insights, which they obtained from famous works of literature of Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, and Bryant. They saw the landscape as having a feeling of hopefulness, divinity, and harmony. This school was an important part of the American culture. Many neighboring countries had crushed America during the time of war and peace. Since that time, Americans yearned to see their nation survive. In his paintings, Cole seems to focus on an ideal America. He does this by painting vistas that mix both idealism and realism. He impressed several of his colleagues teaching them that a landscape painter must

have strength, determination, and should be willing to conquer the hazards of the weather and terrain in order to achieve success. In 1825, an artist named John Trumball discovered Cole’s
work in the window of a frame shop. Trumball purchased many of Cole’s paintings and this was brought to the attention of many critics who loved Cole’s style. The success of the Hudson River School led to the formation of the National Academy of Design. In the beginning of the 1800’s, artists such as Thomas Cole painted pictures of the East and closer to the Hudson Valley. By the 1850’s artists began to travel further into the west and distant places such as the South American