Thomas Cole, Founder of the Hudson River School

December 19, 2010

Though remembered as America’s first leading landscape painter, Thomas Cole was an immigrant born in Lancashire, England in 1801. After coming to America at age 17 he traveled around the east coast with his family. After first learning oil-based painting with a portrait artist Cole began to establish a manner of meticulously detailed drawings that would become the mode for his future landscape works. After a trip to New York Cole released his first collection of illustrations he sketched on a trip up the Hudson River in the summer o 1825. His works garnered him attention from important patrons in New York and by 1829 when he left to continue his studies he was a founding member of the National Academy of Design. When he returned to New York in 1833 he was commissioned to create he work The Course of Empire (1836) which was an allegory depicting the progression of a society. After that his work focused mainly on the “realistic view” as that’s where he found most of his success and where most public interest was at the time. Many years later after finding his own success and defining a new, uniquely American style, Cole took in Frederic E. Church as a pupil, Church would then go on to be the leading painter in the second generation of the Hudson River school style.

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