Art History- Thomas Cole

Thomas Cole, an American Influence Thomas Cole was an established 19thcentury American painter. He was a landscape artist and the founder of the Hudson River School, an American art movement consisting of other landscape artists. He was known for his realistic depiction of American landscape and countryside. Along with painting landscapes, he painted allegorical works, the most famous being The Course of Empire, a five part series and The Voyage of Life, a four part series. As Cole’s fame began to spread, he went back toEngland.

Here he traveled across Europe and visited many places where he continued tosketch and paint, critical to his development and successfulness. He built his reputation and importance in America by meeting many wealthy American tourists all over Europe. In 1832, Cole returned to New York where he made an exhibition of his several European paintings. He maintained a countryside studio inCatskill, New York. Later, he was commissioned to paint his five famous allegorical scenes, The Course of Empire. Shortly after, he painted four more very famous scenes in The Voyage of Life.

Cole met a woman by the name of Maria Bartow, whom he later married in 1836. They both were baptized, confirmed and received communion at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Later, he was the primary architect in the rebuilding of St. Luke’s after a fire destroyed the building. In 1941, he left for Europe once again where he painted a second Voyage of Lifein Italy. Being a predominant public figure, Cole wrote many letters and poems that were published in New York papers. In 1844, he was paid to teach FrederichE. Church in his studio for two years. In 1846, he decided to take on another student, Benjamin McConkey.

In 1848, Cole passed away after several months of poor health in his bedroom overlooking his much-loved Catskill Mountains. He had a very short but successful life. His depiction of American landscapes and scenery provided a large variety of work, which continues to be remembered today. Cole is generally acknowledged as the founder of the Hudson River school, a group of American landscape artists working throughout the 19thcentury romantic movements. He visited the Hudson in the autumn of 1825, stopping along the way to view the Erie Canal, West Point, and the Catskill Mountains.

He fell in love with the wilderness’ beauty and painted his first landscapes of the area here. Cole’s work began to influence other artists and they became to devote themselves to landscape painting instead of their previous work. They saw the scenic magnificence that the outdoors of America can bring. One specific piece from this movement painted by Cole is The Oxbow, which is a view from Mount Holyoke after a thunderstorm. You can see part of the sky is all gray and yucky from the storm and the other part is full of sunshine and light. You can see the different elevations, overlooking the river down below that wraps around the valley.

It is a beautiful painting and perfect example of what the Hudson River School was all about. Cole’s The Course of Empireis an awesome dictation of the rise and fall of a city. Look at our current status in the world and compare it with this series of paintings. Right now our country is not in its greatest shape. What if we fall so hard this happens to us? In the beginning, plant life and wild animals ruled the world. Then a booming city develops successfully but eventually collapses, leaving only ruins. But plant life still survives throughout all of those years and tries to retrieve its ground.

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