THOMAS COLE (1801-1848)



            In late September and early October of 1825 a young artist named Thomas Cole caught a steamboat ride and took a trip up the Hudson River stopping to get off at West Point to see Fort Putnam and again at Catskill, New York, where he got off again, and went off on a sketching trip high up in the Catskill Mountains. On site he did pencil sketches, but when he got back to his father's apartment on Greenwich Street in New York City, he produced three large oil paintings that almost immediately were put on display in a picture shop window where they were snapped up by leading patrons of the day and in the process, changed American art forever. These three transactions made printed news where the following story appeared in the New York Evening Post on November 22, 1825,:


            About a month ago, Mr. Cole, a young man from the interior of Pennsylvania, placed three paintings in the hands of Mr. Colman, a picture dealer in the city, for sale, hoping to obtain twenty dollars apiece for them. There they remained unnoticed by the Macaenases (sic?)  who purchased Guido’s, Raphael’s and Titian’s, of the manufacture of every manufacturing town in Europe: &there they might have remained, if an artist, who had himself placed some of his own productions in the hands of Mr. Colman, had not gone to inquire for the proceeds. On casting his eyes upon one of the pictures by Mr. Cole, he exclaimed, “where did these come from!” and continued gazing, almost incapable of understanding the answer. When informed that what he saw was the work of a young man, untutored and unknown, he immediately purchased the painting for twenty five dollars, the price Mr. Colman had prevailed upon the painter to affix to his work, adding, “Mr. Colman, keep the money due to me, and take the balance. If I could sir, I would add to the balance. What I now purchase for 25 dollars I would not part for 25 guineas. I am delighted, and at the same time mortified. This youth has done at once, and without instruction, what I can not do after 50 years of practice.”  This honorable testimony to the merits and genius of Mr. Cole was from Col. (John) Trumbull.

            Col. Trumbull immediately mentioned his purchase to another artist, and in the highest terms of eulogium. That artist waited at the colonel’s rooms while the picture was sent for, and immediately exclaimed, “This is beyond the expectations you had raised.” After gazing with wonder and delight, he hastened to see the remaining two, purchased one, and left the other only for the lack of money. He carried this in his hand to the rooms of Col. Trumbull, where two other artists of first rank in the city were in waiting. The result was, that the four went immediately to the picture dealers; one of the last mentioned artists bought the remaining landscape; all four left their cards for Mr. Cole, whose modesty had not permitted himself to the artists of the city; and all have expressed but one sentiment of admiration and pleasure, at the talent which is thus brought to light.

            These pictures will now be seen with delight by those that visit our Academy, and they will be astonished when they compare them with the works of the first European masters, in the Gallery, to find an American boy, comparatively speaking, for such a truly is a man of twenty two, has equaled those works which have been the boast of Europe and the admiration of the ages. ------ American


            Those first three paintings by Cole purchased by John Trumbull, Asher B. Durand and William Dunlap, were “The Falls of the Kaaterskill,” “Lake with Dead Trees,” and, “A View of Fort Putnam.” In all likelihood the three have never been seen together since those early days as first “The Falls of the Kaaterskill” disappeared and then so to did “A View of Fort Putnam.” The version we know today as “The Falls of the Kaaterskill” was a copy done for Daniel Wadsworth in 1826. Trumbull was the uncle of Wadsworth by marriage, and Wadsworth would go on to become the greatest patron of Cole. “A View of Fort Putnam,” was considered to be lost until being recently rediscovered at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art in Philadelphia, where it has been properly restored to its current state, a most suitable location as it was at the P.A.F.A. in late 1823 and early 1824 that Cole received his brief formal art training.



Thomas Cole, The Falls of the Kaaterskill, 1826

Daniel Wadsworth's copy of the original owned by Trumbull. It belongs to the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, CT.

Thomas Cole, Lake with Dead Trees, 1825

The painting bought by William Dunlap and sold to Phillip Hone, Mayor of New York City. Eventually it was donated to the Oberlin College art museum by Charles Olney, Class of 1904.

Thomas Cole, A View of Fort Putnam, 1825

This was the painting purchased from Colman by Asher B. Durand, which disappeared from the public eye for over a hundred years before being rediscovered at the P.A.F.A. in 2004. It had been in the collection of an art dealer (deceased) whose widow loaned it to the museum.


Scroll down to have access to additional images by Thomas Cole (1801-1848)

Cole, Thomas
American Lake Scene  Thomas Cole 1844
An Evening in Arcadia  Thomas Cole 1843
Angels Ministering to Christ in the Wilderness  Thomas Cole Not listed
An Italian Autumn  Thomas Cole 1844
Aqueduct near Rome  Thomas Cole 1832
Arch of Nero  Thomas Cole 1846
A Rocky Glen (aka In the Shawangunks)  Thomas Cole 1846
Autumn in the Catskills  Thomas Cole 1827
Autumn Landscape (aka Mount Chocorua)  Thomas Cole circa 1827-1828
Autumn Twilight: View of Copway Peak (aka Mount Chocorua, New Hampshire)  Thomas Cole 1834
A View of the Two Lakes and Mountain House, Catskill Mountains, Morning  Thomas Cole 1844
A Wild Scene  Thomas Cole 1831-1832
Brock's Monument  Thomas Cole Not listed
Cabin in the Woods, North Conway, New Hampshire  Thomas Cole Not listed
Catskill Landscape  Thomas Cole 1846
Catskill Scenery  Thomas Cole circa 1833
Corway Peak, New Hamshire  Thomas Cole 1844
Cross at Sunset  Thomas Cole circa 1848
Daniel Boone Sitting at the Door of His Cabin on the Great Osage Lake, Kentucky  Thomas Cole 1826
Desolation  Thomas Cole 1836
Dream of Arcadia  Thomas Cole 1838
Evening in Arcadia  Thomas Cole 1843
Expulsion from the Garden of Eden  Thomas Cole 1827-1828
Expulsion - Moon and Firelight  Thomas Cole circa 1828
Falls of Kaaterskill  Thomas Cole 1826
Frenchman's Bay, Mt. Desert Island  Thomas Cole 1844
Gelyna (aka View near Ticonderoga)  Thomas Cole 1826-1828
Genesee Scenery (aka Poop)  Thomas Cole 1847
Home in the Woods  Thomas Cole 1847
Il Pensaro  Thomas Cole 1845
Indian at Sunset  Thomas Cole circa 1845-1847
Indian Pass - Tahawus  Thomas Cole 1847
Indian Sacrifice  Thomas Cole 1827
Indians Viewing Landscape  Thomas Cole circa 1827
Italian Scene, Composition  Thomas Cole 1833
Kaaterskill Fals  Thomas Cole 1826
Lake with Dead Trees (aka Catskill)  Thomas Cole 1825
L'Allegro (aka Italian Sunset)  Thomas Cole 1845
Landscape  Thomas Cole 1825
Landscape (aka American Lake in Summer)  Thomas Cole Not listed
Landscape Composition: St. John in the Wilderness  Thomas Cole 1827
Landscape Scene from 'The Last of the Mohicans'  Thomas Cole 1827
Landscape, the Seat of Mr. Featherstonhaugh in the Distance  Thomas Cole 1826
Landscape with Dead Trees  Thomas Cole 1827
Landscape with Figures: A Scene from 'The Last of the Mohicans'  Thomas Cole 1826
Mount Aetna from Taormina, Sicily  Thomas Cole 1844
Mountain Sunrise, Catskill  Thomas Cole 1826
Mount Etna  Thomas Cole 1842
Mount Etna from Taormina  Thomas Cole 1843
Peace at Sunset (aka Evening in the White Mountains)  Thomas Cole circa 1827
Portage Falls on the Genesee  Thomas Cole 1839
River in the Catskills  Thomas Cole 1843
Roman Campagna  Thomas Cole 1843
Romantic Landscape with Ruined Tower  Thomas Cole 1832-1836
Scene from 'The Last of the Mohicans': Cora Kneeling at the Feet of Tanemund  Thomas Cole 1827
Schroon Lake  Thomas Cole circa 1838-1840
Schroon Mountain, Adirondacks, Essex County, New York, after a Storm  Thomas Cole 1838
Sketch for 'The Oxbow'  Thomas Cole 1836
Study for 'Dream of Arcadia'  Thomas Cole 1838
Summer Twilight  Thomas Cole Not listed
Summer Twilight: A Recollection of a Scene in New England  Thomas Cole 1834
Sunny Morning on the Hudson River  Thomas Cole circa 1827
Sunrise in the Catskill Mountains  Thomas Cole 1826
Sunset on the Arno  Thomas Cole 1837
The Architect's Dream  Thomas Cole 1840
The Cascatelli, Tivoli, Looking Towards Rome (aka view of rome frm tivoli)  Thomas Cole 1872
The Clove, Catskills (aka double impact)  Thomas Cole 1827
The Course of Empire: Consummation  Thomas Cole 1835-1836
The Course of Empire: Destruction  Thomas Cole Not listed
The Course of Empire: The Arcadian or Pastoral State  Thomas Cole 1836
The Course of Empire: The Savage State  Thomas Cole 1836
The Cross and the World: Study for 'The Pilgrim of the Cross at the End of His Journey'  Thomas Cole circa 1846-1847
The Cross and the World: Study for 'The Pilgrim of the World at the End of His Journey'  Thomas Cole circa 1846-1847
The Cross and the World: Study for 'The Pilgrim of the World on His Journey'  Thomas Cole circa 1846-1847
The Cross and the World: Study for 'Two Youths Enter Upon a Pilgrimage - One to Cross the Other to the World  Thomas Cole circa 1846-1847
The Departure  Thomas Cole 1838
The Gardenn of Eden  Thomas Cole 1828
The Gardens of the Van Rensselaer Manor House  Thomas Cole 1840
The Good Shepherd  Thomas Cole 1848
The Hunter's Return  Thomas Cole 1845
The Mountain Ford  Thomas Cole 1846
The Old Mill at Sunset  Thomas Cole 1844
The Oxbow (aka The Connecticut River near Northampton)  Thomas Cole 1836
The Past  Thomas Cole 1838
The Picnic  Thomas Cole 1846
The Present  Thomas Cole 1838
The Return  Thomas Cole 1838
The Ruins of Taormina  Thomas Cole 1842
The Subsiding Waters of the Deluge  Thomas Cole 1829
The Titan's Goblet  Thomas Cole 1833
The Vale and Temple of Segeste, Sicily  Thomas Cole 1844
The Voyage of Life: Childhood  Thomas Cole 1842
The Voyage of Life: Childhood  Thomas Cole 1839-1840
The Voyage of Life: Manhood  Thomas Cole 1842
The Voyage of Life: Manhood  Thomas Cole 1840
The Voyage of Life: Old Age  Thomas Cole 1840
The Voyage of Life: Old Age  Thomas Cole 1842
The Voyage of Life: Youth  Thomas Cole 1842
The Voyage of Life: Youth  Thomas Cole 1840
Tornado  Thomas Cole 1835
Tree in the Catskills  Thomas Cole 1844
Valley of the Vaucluse  Thomas Cole 1841
View Across Frenchman's Bay from Mount Desert Island, After a Squall  Thomas Cole 1845
View in the White Mountains  Thomas Cole 1827
View of Florence from San Miniato  Thomas Cole 1837
View of Monte Video, Seat of Daniel Wadsworth, Esq.  Thomas Cole 1828
View of Mount Etna  Thomas Cole circa 1843-1844
View of the Arno  Thomas Cole circa 1835-1838
View on the Catskill, Early Autunm  Thomas Cole 1837
View on the Schoharie  Thomas Cole 1826




Art sites Also by Alexander Boyle:

Guide to where the Hudson River School Painted

Bright Lights, Safe Harbors, Painted Images of American Lighthouses

First Review of Thomas Cole (1801-1848), Nov. 22, 1825

Thomas Cole in the Upper Schoharie watershed of the Catskills

Frederic E. Church (1826-1900)

Master-list of Herman Herzog (1832-1932)

Winslow Homer (1836-1910) and Houghton Farm, Mountainville, NY

John F. Peto (1854-1907), The Studio in Island Heights, NJ

Biography of Eugene Francis Savage (1883-1978)

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) rediscovery   

Abstract Expressionist Joseph Grippi (1924-2003)   

Alvin Loving (1935-2005)

The Outside Art of Nobihoru Yamauchi

E-Mail Alexander questions about these artists or any fine art work in general