COLE, Thomas
(b. 1801, Bolton-le-Moor, d. 1848, Catskill)


American Romantic landscape painter, a founder of the Hudson River School. His family migrated to America from England in 1819 and he became passionately devoted to the natural scenery of his new country. He spent two years at the Academy of Fine Arts in Pennsylvania and made his living as a portrait painter and engraver there and in New York until some of his landscapes attracted the attention of Dunlap, Durand, and Trumbull, in 1825, assuring his success. In the following year he moved to Catskill on the Hudson River, journeying into the mountains, often on foot, to make sketches of the scenery and working his studies up into finished paintings in the studio.

He had two stays in Europe, 1829-32 and 1841-42, living mainly in Florence with Greenough. These European visits, during which he came under the influence of Turner and John Martin, turned him increasingly from the depiction of natural scenery towards grandiose historical and allegorical themes, notably the two great series The Course of Empire (New-York Historical Society, 1836) and The Voyage of Life (Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, 1840).