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

The Ages of Life: Youth

Oil on canvas, 134 x 195 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, American landscape painters of the Late Romantic school often suffused their compositions with an unreal illumination intended to symbolize Christian salvation. Their aim was to evoke the transcendence of light as a sign of divine mercy. Expanses of sky over a broad horizon were rendered in intense reds, yellows and violets, a colour range unknown to European painting, in spite of William Turner.

Thomas Cole, an emigrant from England who founded the Hudson River School, transformed Claude Lorrain's arcadias into a vision of America.