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Thomas Cole (1801-1848)

Written by Brett Nelson

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Posted on February 18 2020

It is not often an artist has a mountain named after him but that is exactly what has happened to the late American artist Thomas Cole. He ended his days living at a farm called Cedar Grove in the Catskills, New York where he established his studio and the fourth highest mountain in the Catskills is called Thomas Cole Mountain in his honour. It was the beauty of the Catskill Mountains that made Cole decide to spend his last years living there.

Cole was actually born in England in Bolton, Lancashire on 1st February 1801 but when he was seventeen the family emigrated to the United States of America and it was there he achieved his fame and they became American citizens.

Cole always wanted to paint and he started out studying portraiture with a roaming portrait painter but found little success so he decided to switch to landscapes. It is his landscape work that he is best known for as he achieved much success with his real-life portrayals of the countryside. In 1826 Cole also helped to found the National Academy of Design in New York.

Although based in New York City in 1827 Cole decided to set up a studio at a farm in the Catskills called Cedar Grove because of the beauty of the surroundings. A significant proportion of his best work was painted there and when he married the niece of the owner Maria Barlow he decided to make Cedar Grove his permanent home leaving behind the city life.

The couple lived an idyllic life and had five children. Cole did return to England to paint as well as travelling in Europe but the Catskills was the home he loved to come back to. Following his untimely death at the age of forty seven on 11th February 1848 the family continued to live at Cedar Grove. In 1999 it was declared a National Historic Site and Thomas Cole House is open to the public where some of his paintings and sketches are on display as well as the studio he spent so many happy hours in.

View our Thomas Cole Gallery

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