8/2/04 Art Appreciation
Painting landscapes was very important during the 19th century. Thomas Cole was one of the most important figures in landscape painting in the United States. He went to many places searching for nature, which he painted to show the unmatchable beauty nature creates. His works of art helped people see and take pride in their great land, which was called America. Cole's works were often made people feel like they needed to go out in nature and discover the inspiring world of mother earth. Thomas Cole, born on February 1, 1801 in Lancashire, England, found himself at fourteen working as a textile printer and wood engraver in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Cole returned to his parents in 1819 in Ohio; this is were he learned how to oil paint and how to use different kinds of oil painting techniques under the supervision of a portrait painter, Stein. Cole was very impressed and impacted by the landscapes of the "new world" and how magnificent they were compared to where he came from, which was England. Cole found that art came naturally to him and eventually taught himself how to observe nature and still life. He started by illustrating American trees, plants, animals, and even Native Americans. With his sketches of nature he made several different paintings including his famous "The Course of Empire", "The wood chopper", and "The Oxbow." In early 1826, Thomas Cole was most famous for being the creator of the National Academy of Design. As the founder, Cole was urged by fans to paint American scenery, but Cole desired to create a landscape painting that could express moral and religious meanings. He painted and painted and then in 1836 he married and settled in Catskill, New York to Maria Bartow. In Catskill he made a beautiful landscape painting of the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River. He is said to have made a big impact on artists like Frederick Church and Albert Bierstadt. Sadly, Cole died early of a disease on February 11, 1848. But his life wasn't fruitless, he helped lead the first school of landscape called the Hudson River School into the making; were many more leading artists came. Thomas Dougherty, Asher Brown Durand, Albert Bierstadt, and others came from the Hudson River School and they all became romantic realists and painted about the American country sides. These realists joined detail panoramic images with moral insights, which they got by hailed romantic writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman. These painters saw landscapes having feelings of hope, divinity, and even harmony. The Hudson River School was a very important asset to American culture and art. Bordering countries during the nineteenth century were demolishing America and made Americans want to see their nation survive as an independent nation. Cole focuses on the American landscape and mixes idealism and realism into his paintings to really get viewers to admire nature and its beauty. He believed that landscape painters needed to have strength determination, and courage to overcome Mother Nature's more turbulent side. Then, in 1825, John Trumball, an artist, discovered Cole's magnificent work in a frame at a frame shop. Trumball immediately bought lots of Cole's works and drew art critics' attention. With the Hudson River School being so prosperous the National Academy of design was born. In the early nineteenth century landscape artists painted scenes of America's east side near the Hudson River, but by the mid-nineteenth century Landscape artists tended to paint portraits of the newly explored western territory and the South American tropics to show a more extravagant side of the United States. Cole's first major painting, "The Course of the Empire," was a symbolistic illustration showing the five stages of an empire; which were the savage state, pastoral state, consummation of the empire, destruction, and finally desolation. The different...
Cited: The Hudson River School: American Landscape Artists. New York: Smithmark Publishers, 1996.
Lucie-Smith, Edward. American Realism. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1994. Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History. Rev. ed. Vol.2.
New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1995. 973-974. Yaeger, Bert D.
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