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He was born in 1801, at the height of the industrial revolution, in Bolton-le-Moors, near Manchester in northwestern England. Turner, however, were impressed by the demonic spectacle of forges and factories at work, discovering sublimity in the industrial landscape.Polluted and overcrowded, Bolton was surrounded by wild and beautiful countryside. Works such as theirs provide a glimpse into the landscape of Cole’s childhood.
That same year he confided to a friend The Garden of Eden is the subject—The scene as it exists in my mind's eye is very beautiful.
While Thomas Cole is recognized as one of the greatest American landscape painters, he was born in Britain at the height of the industrial revolution. His engagement with the traditions of European art and thought paradoxically heightened Cole’s abiding passion for the American wilderness.
In this Eden-like, sun-filled vale, a family lives simply and innocently in harmony with nature.
The painting speaks of domestic bliss—a father and son returning home from the hunt to a loving welcome.
Just seven years later his first paintings were purchased by eminent artists of the day, and his reputation soared.
In 1836 Cole settled in Catskill, New York, on the Hudson River.After he died suddenly in 1848, the revered nature poet William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878) gave the funeral oration for his friend, a painter whose intellect, spirit, and faith were always grounded in his love of nature. These works proved to be a significant achievement, pointing the way to the great epic series that were yet to come in his life's work.Thomas Cole was the artist most responsible for establishing a distinctive American art in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Through his painting and writing, he inspired a fascination with the landscape, elevating it to the honored level of history painting. If I had time I should indulge myself in attempting to describe the scene I have imagined: but can now only say that there are in it lofty distant Mountains, a calm expansive lake, wooded bays, rocky promontories—a solitary island, undulating grounds, a meandering river . By 1827 Cole was formulating an idea that expressed the full extent of his true artistic ambition: to paint landscapes of high and holy meaning. Using the Amon Carter’s collection of American art and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Picturing America project, explore masterworks of American art and the artists who made them while discussing how these works connect American culture and history.This project is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.He arrived on American soil exactly two hundred years ago, in 1818, as an economic migrant. Inscribed “Drawn from Life by an Officer” at lower left and “Pubd, May 1812 by Me∫ss, Walker and Knight, ‘Sweetings Alley Royal Exchange.” at lower center. This exhibition is the first to present Cole as an international figure, whose repeated voyages across the Atlantic shaped his worldview and artistic practice. As the first proto-environmental artist in America, Cole’s conservative, pastoral vision of the American ideal began to clash with the volatile commercial growth and brash imperial aspirations of the Jacksonian era, as revealed in his mature American works.It marks the first time since 1832 that Cole’s work will be shown alongside those of his British contemporaries, J. The exhibition is designed to take visitors on Cole’s artistic journey through six distinct periods of his life.These artists traveled the Hudson River to sketch the compelling beauty and magnificence of the area and, in the process, created new standards for art that expressed powerful ideas about spirituality, culture, and national identity. banks of beauteous flowers, fruits, harmless and graceful animals &c &c., exh. (Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum, 1994), 21–22.) This subject so engaged Cole's fertile imagination that his depiction of Eden was brought forth in lavish detail and on a grand scale.Cole's last years in Catskill were marked by increasing introspection and deepening religious faith. It quickly expanded to encompass two canvases, with a companion piece, (1828, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), providing the dramatic climax to the tale of Adam and Eve in Paradise.