Thomas Cole (1801-1848) lived a remarkably short life; however, his influence as an American landscape painter gives him his renown as an artist. His art is recognized as possessing all the attributes of Romanticism. Cole’s father owned a wallpaper business, but his disinterest in this field drove him, after receiving elementary art lessons, to travel to Ohio and Pennsylvania. Paintings displayed at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts kindled inspiration, and his pursuit in art continued. In 1825, he visited New York City where he painted genuinely sublime landscapes along the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains, broadening his fame as a landscape painter. (Avery) Worthy of attention concerning Cole are the Hudson River School of Romantic Landscapes he founded, how the Hudson River School’s art was Romantic, why landscapes are an American national symbol, and about one of Cole’s famous paintings The Oxbow.
The Hudson River School Thomas Cole founded consisted of a group of landscape artists who painted sublime and realistic images of majestic American landscapes. (Strickland 81) Even though Cole is considered the founder of this school he actually did not contribute any further beyond its original establishment around 1850. (Avery) Despite this school’s deceiving name, it actually was not a school of art. Instead, this organization of New York City-based painters was instigated as a supportive group for each other in their similar artistic style. (Avery) (Sharp)
The reason the Hudson River School is considered a Romantic school of landscapes is because the landscapes these affiliated artists painted were in the Romantic style. Romanticism in both European countries and America emphasized the imagination and inspiration in art. These painters were inspired by the beauty and grandeur of America and produced many Romantic paintings with glorious usage of light. They viewed America as the “New Eden,” a perfect new beginning for humanity. (Zimmer) The words of Ralph Waldo Emerson demonstrate accurately how American landscapes were an ideal subject for Romantic painters. He wrote, “America is a poem in our eyes; its ample geography dazzles the imagination and it will not wait long for metres.” (Emerson 465)
The members of the Hudson River School believed...