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Cole, Thomas
Thomas Cole (1801-1848)
Birth Place Bolton-le-Moor, Lancashire, England
Death Place near Catskill, New York
Born Feb. 1, 1801
Died Feb. 1848
General Notes There is little in Thomas Cole's background to explain his sudden success as a landscape painter. Born in the English industrial center of Bolton-le-Moors, he was apprenticed to a textile designer before immigrating to America in 1818. In the frontier outpost of Steubenville, Ohio, he took lessons from a little-known painter and worked as an itinerant portraitist. Then he studied intermittently at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and made drawings from nature. In New York City in 1825 the eminent artists William Dunlap, Asher B. Durand, and John Trumbull acquired his first productions; thereafter, Cole's reputation soared. He went abroad twice, but he was always drawn to the scenery around the town of Catskill, on the Hudson River. He settled there permanently in 1836 after marrying into an old local family. The nearby mountains, steeped in history and legend, fed Cole's imagination and made a storyteller of him. Regarded as the founder of the nation's landscape school, he was, in truth, a painter of history and allegory, dedicated to a landscape art imbued with lofty, spiritual meaning. Cole was just beginning work on what he planned as his grandest series, a moral tale of Christian trial called The Cross and the World, when he died suddenly in 1848.
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