Thomas Cole (February 1, 1801 – February 11, 1848) was an American artist known for his landscape and history paintings. He is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River School, an American art movement that flourished in the mid-19th century. Cole's work is known for its romantic portrayal of the American wilderness.
Born in Bolton-le-Moors, Lancashire, in 1801, Cole's family emigrated to the United States in 1818, settling in Steubenville, Ohio. At the age of twenty-two Cole moved to Philadelphia, and later, in 1825, to New York City with his family.
Cole found work early on as an engraver. He was largely self-taught as a painter, relying on books and by studying the work of other artists. In 1822 Cole started working as a portrait painter, and later on gradually shifted his focus to landscape.
After 1827 Cole maintained a studio at the farm called Cedar Grove in the town of Catskill, New York. He painted a significant portion of his work in this studio. In 1836 he married Maria Bartow of Catskill, a niece of the owner, and became a year-round resident. Thomas and Maria had five children.
Additionally, Thomas Cole held many friendships with important figures in the art world including Daniel Wadsworth whom he shared a close friendship with. Proof of this friendship can be seen in the letters that were unearthed in the 1980s by the Trinity College, Watkinson Library. Cole emotionally wrote Wadsworth in July of 1832: "Years have passed away since I saw you & time & the world have undoubtedly wrought many changes in both of us; but the recollection of your friendship... have never faded in my mind & I look at those pleasures as "flowers that never will in other garden grow-" Thomas Cole died at Catskill on February 11, 1848. The fourth highest peak in the Catskills is named Thomas Cole Mountain in his honor. Cedar Grove, also known as the Thomas Cole House, was declared a National Historic Site in 1999 and is now open to the public.
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