Thomas Cole (1801-1848) was an American artist who is regarded as the Founder of the Hudson River School. This school represented an art movement that emphasized realistic and detailed portraits of the American landscape with themes of romanticism and naturalism. Thomas Cole was born in England, but moved to the United States as a youth. His talents for painting were soon discovered and his works focused on landscapes. He also painted allegorical works including his famous ""The Course of Empire"" serie

Patterns Included In This Set:


The Oxbow

Titan's Goblet

The Garden of Eden


Romantic Landscape with Ruined Tower

The Fountain of Vaucluse

The Course of Empire Consummation


The Savage State


The Departure


The Return

The Past

The Present


Italian Sunset

Il Penseroso

Home in the Woods


The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge

Views on the Catskill Early Autumn

Genesee Scenery


Mount Aetna from Taormina

Schroon Mountain

The Clove


Falls of Kaaterskill

A View near Tivoli

A Wild Scene


American Lake Scene

Arch of Nero

Autumn in the Catskills


Cross at Sunset

Frenchman's Bay Mt. Desert Island

Indian Pass Tahawus


Interior of the Colosseum

Kaaterskill Falls

Lake with Dead Trees



Prometheus Bound

Sunny Morning on the Hudson River


The Notch of the White Mountains

Voyage of Life - Youth

View Across Frenchman's Bay


Catskill Mountain House

Italian Coast Scene with Ruined Tower

Self Portrait

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Thomas Cole (February 1, 1801 – February 11, 1848) was an American artist and a founder of the Hudson River School of Art. He is widely regarded as being the most important American landscape painter of the early 19th century.

Cole was born in Bolton, Lancashire in Northwestern England. His family emigrated to the United States in 1818, settling in Steubenville, Ohio before moving to Pittsburg, Philadelphia and finally New York in 1825.

In England young Thomas had trained as a woodblock engraver for printing calico and in Steubenville he designed wallpaper patterns. He is said to have learned oil painting from a wandering portrait painter called John Stein and took lessons at the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts where he also exhibited some of his works.

It was in New York though, that his artistic interest shifted to landscape. He had started drawing from nature while in Pittsburgh and in the summer of 1825 took a long sketching trip up the Hudson River and into the Catskill mountains. He produced some hauntingly beautiful landscapes of the American wilderness and exhibited them in New York in late October 1825. The following year he became a founding member of the National Academy of Design and his works were in great demand. Other artists began to paint landscapes in that area and they became known collectively as the Hudson River School. Through their paintings, they brought to the world’s attention the unique beauty of American scenery.

By 1829 Cole was firmly established as America’s leading landscape painter. Although he had many commissions, he wanted to create a landscape style that would transcend the visual and express religious or moral meanings. In June 1829 he sailed for Englandwhere he met with John Constable and Joseph Mallord William Turner, visited museums and art galleries and began to develop his artistic ideas. His stay in Britain was followed by travels in France and Italy.

Cole returned to the United States in November 1832 with ideas for a grand landscape series tracing the rise and fall of an ancient civilization. He managed to convince a New York art dealer to support the project and the Course of Empire, consisting of five large canvases, was exhibited in 1836 to good reviews.

Cole, who had established a studio in the Catskills, was critical of industrial development, concerned that industrialization and the railroad would negatively impact the simplicity and wild beauty of the American landscape.

In November 1836 Cole married Maria Bartow, whose uncle was the owner of the studio he rented. They had five children and settled on a farm called Cedar Grove in Catskill, New York.

In 1839 Cole began work on a large commission for Samuel Ward, a wealthy art patron and banker. The series of four paintings was an allegorical work called The Voyage of Life, but Ward died in late 1839 and did not live to see the completed work, which Cole finished a year later.

Thomas Cole made a second European voyage in 1841, traveling to France, Italy, Switzerland and England, where he visited relatives. While in Italy, he visited Sicily and painted Mount Etna. He returned to New York in 1842.

In 1846 Cole began work on The Cross and the World, a five-canvas series portraying the quest for salvation, but in February 1848 he was taken ill. His condition worsened and he developed a lung infection from which he died. He was 47 years old. Cole’s untimely death shocked the New York art world and his admirers organized a memorial exhibition of his works. His lasting legacy was the American School of landscape painting, which developed out of his unique vision and love of the American wilderness.

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