Saturday, August 29, 2009

THE FIRST GREAT AMERICAN LANDSCAPE PAINTER




Thomas Cole, American painter, 1845
Source photography.si.edu or flickr.com
Author Unidentified photographer
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Thomas Cole
Born: 1-Feb-1801
Birthplace: Bolton-le-Moors, Lancashire, England
Died: 11-Feb-1848
Location of death: Catskill, NY
Cause of death: unspecified
Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Painter
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: American landscape painter
(Copyright ©2009 Soylent Communications)

Thomas Cole has long been known as the founder of the Hudson River School. He has also come to be recognized as a romantic landscape painter of comparable importance to American culture as John Constable is to England's or Caspar David Friedrich to Germany's. Born in England in 1801, Cole emigrated with his parents to Pennsylvania in 1818. Already trained as an engraver, the aspiring painter set out to capture the still largely unexplored American wilderness. In a now familiar story, when Cole first exhibited his landscapes in New York City in 1825, they enthralled two of America's most prominent artists, John Trumbull and William Dunlap, both of whom immediately recognized the freshness and vitality of the young artist's vision.
Such landscapes have several purposes in Cole's large view of history. In them we are reminded of the transience of human endeavor, which is deliberately contrasted to the permanence of God's creation in the rocks and mountains that enclose the scene. They also serve as statements of what makes a culture livable, which for the artist was not the bustle of industrialism and commerce, but rather a peaceable coexistence with nature, enlivened by the arts.
(BRUCE W. CHAMBERS at butlerart.com)
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.
(From catholicposters.com)


Lake with Dead Trees, 1825
From hamiltonauctiongalleries.com


A View of Fort Putnam, 1825
From hamiltonauctiongalleries.com


Falls of Kaaterskill
Oil on canvas, 1826
42 7/8 x 35 7/8 inches (109.2 x 91.4 cm)
Warner Collection
Gulf States Paper Corporation, Tuscaloosa
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

and compare....

Kaaterskill Falls
Eastern Catskill Mountains of New York
From Blackbird Archive


Kaaterskill Falls, 1826
From hamiltonauctiongalleries.com


Those first three paintings by Cole purchased by John Trumbull, Asher B. Durand and William Dunlap, were “Lake with Dead Trees,” “A View of Fort Putnam” and “The Falls of the Kaaterskill.” 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.
(Alexander Boyle at hamiltonauctiongalleries.com)
Lake Winnepesaukee was painted just two to three years after Thomas Cole established himself as a leading American landscape artist. The painting illustrates Cole’s early desire to depict nature as wild and sublime. Cole composed this painting from a sketch he made on a trip through the White Mountains of New Hampshire in 1827. First exhibited at the American Academy of Fine Arts in 1828, it was purchased by Stephen Van Rensselaer III (1764-1839), the aristocratic landowner who was one of Albany’s most famous citizens. In July 1828, Van Rensselaer asked Cole to provide the companion picture, View near Catskill (Private Collection) which was exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1829. Cole’s protégé, Asher B. Durand, engraved an image after the painting in 1830 and the print entitled Winnipiseogee Lake was published in The American Landscape that same year.
(From brossarddesigns.com)
Cole wrote of Lake Winnepesaukee:
Its mountains do not stoop to the water’s edge, but through varied screens of forest may be seen ascending the sky softened by the blue haze of distance . . .
(Albany Institute of History & Art, Gift of Mrs. Ledyard Cogswell, Jr. at brossarddesigns.com)


Lake Winnepesaukee
Oil on canvas, 1827 or 1828
From brossarddesigns.com


The most startling quality of The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge, below, is the clarity of light . It is as if the whole world has been washed clean of every tarnish, and now lies ready for a new dawn. Certainly wreckage is strewn in the forefront of the painting, and the ground is still awash with the receding floodwater, but light coming from some point at the right of the picture seems to announce the new world that God is offering Noah. Cole seems to suggest that this is the scene that greeted Noah when he removed the covering from the door of the ark.
(From bible-art.info)


The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge
Oil on canvas, 1829
35 5/8 x 47 3/4 inches (90.8 x 121.4 cm)
National Museum of American Art
Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


By 1829, when he decided to go to Europe to study firsthand the great works of the past, he had become one of the founding members of the National Academy of Design and was generally recognized as America's leading landscape painter. In Europe, Cole's visits to the great galleries of London and Paris and, more important, his stay in Italy from 1831 to 1832, filled his imagination with high-minded themes and ideas. A true Romantic spirit, he sought to express in his painting the elevated moral tone and concern with lofty themes previously the province of history painting.
(From "American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School" at The Artchive)


Interior of the Colosseum, Rome
Oil on canvas, 1832
Albany Institute of History and Art, New York City
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


The Titan's Goblet
Oil on canvas, 1832
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan, New York, USA
Gift of Samuel P. Avery Jr., 1904
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Cole often painted fanciful landscapes, but this work may be his most enigmatic. Its main feature evolved from sketches the artist made in Italy in 1832 of fantastical fountains, bearded with foliage, which were evidently inspired by actual ones he saw at sites in Florence, Rome, and Tivoli, possibly informed further by the basinlike appearance of volcanic lakes near Rome such as Nemi and Albano. The artist himself inscribed the title on the back of the painting; thus, in including the sun behind the vastly amplified fountain, he may have been alluding to the mythological titan Helios, who rode a goblet through the nocturnal sky before mounting a chariot at dawn to illuminate the day.
(Copyright © 2000–2009 The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
When he returned to America, he found an enlightened patron in the New York merchant Luman Reed, who commissioned from him The Course of Empire (1836), a five-canvas extravaganza depicting the progress of a society from the savage state to an apogee of luxury and, finally, to dissolution and extinction. Most New York patrons, however, preferred recognizable American views, which Cole, his technique further improved by his European experience, was able to paint with increased authority. Although he frequently complained that he would prefer not to have to paint those so-called realistic views, Cole's best efforts in the landscape genre reveal the same high-principled, intellectual content that informs his religious and allegorical works.
(From "American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School" at The Artchive)


The Course of the Empire (Oil, 1836)
Savage State
New York Historical Society
Gift of the New-York Gallery of Fine Arts, 1858
From Ron Watters Home Page


The Course of the Empire (Oil, 1836)
Pastoral State
New York Historical Society
Gift of the New-York Gallery of Fine Arts, 1858
From Ron Watters Home Page


The Course of the Empire (Oil, 1836)
Consummation of the Empire
New York Historical Society
Gift of the New-York Gallery of Fine Arts, 1858
From Ron Watters Home Page


The Course of the Empire (Oil, 1836)
Destruction
New York Historical Society
Gift of the New-York Gallery of Fine Arts, 1858
From Ron Watters Home Page


The Course of the Empire (Oil, 1836)
Desolation
New York Historical Society
Gift of the New-York Gallery of Fine Arts, 1858
From Ron Watters Home Page


In The Course of the Empire, above, one can see the mountain in the background remains throughout, but in the foreground, there are considerable changes.
A second trip to Europe, in 1841-42, resulted in even greater advances in the mastery of his art: his use of color showed greater virtuosity and his representation of atmosphere, especially the sky, became almost palpably luminous.
He consistently recorded his thoughts in a formidable body of writing: detailed journals, many poems, and an influential essay on American scenery. Further, he encouraged and fostered the careers of Asher B. Durand and Frederic E. Church, two artists who would most ably continue the painting tradition he had established. Though Cole's unexpected death after a short illness sent a shock through the New York art world, the many achievements that were his legacy provided a firm ground for the continued growth of the school of American landscape.
(From "American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School" at The Artchive)
Thomas Cole prepared detailed explanatory texts for each painting in the four-part series, The Voyage of Life, below. The following are Cole's own words about these paintings:
"A stream is seen issuing from a deep cavern, in the side of a craggy and precipitous mountain, whose summit is hidden in clouds. From out the cave glides a Boat, whose golden prow and sides are sculptured into figures of the Hours: steered by an Angelic Form, and laden with buds and flowers, it bears a laughing Infant, the Voyager whose varied course the artist has attempted to delineate. On either hand the banks of the stream are clothed in luxuriant herbage and flowers. The rising sun bathes the mountains and the flowery banks in rosy light.
The dark cavern is emblematic of our earthly origin, and the mysterious Past. The Boat, composed of Figures of the Hours, images the thought, which we are borne o n the hours down the Stream of Life. The Boat identifies the subject in each picture. The rosy light of the morning, the luxuriant flowers and plants, are emblems of the joyousness of early life. The close banks, and the limited scope of the scene, indicate the narrow experience of Childhood, and the nature of its pleasures and desires. The Egyptian Lotus in the foreground of the picture is symbolical of Human Life. Joyousness and wonder are the characteristic emotions of childhood.
Cole's renowned four-part series traces the journey of an archetypal hero along the "River of Life." Confidently assuming control of his destiny and oblivious to the dangers that await him, the voyager boldly strives to reach an aerial castle. As the traveler approaches his goal, the ever-more-turbulent stream deviates from its course and relentlessly carries him toward the next picture in the series, where nature's fury, evil demons, and self-doubt will threaten his very existence. Only pr ayer, Cole suggests, can save the voyager from a dark and tragic fate.
From the innocence of childhood, to the flush of youthful overconfidence, through the trials and tribulations of middle age, to the hero's triumphant salvation, The Voyage of Life seems intrinsically linked to life doctrine of death and resurrection.
Trouble is characteristic of the period of Manhood. In Childhood there is no cankering care; in Youth no despairing thought. It is only when experience has taught us the realities of the world, that we lift from our eyes the golden veil of early life; that we feel deep and abiding sorrow; and in the picture, the gloomy, eclipse-like tone, the conflicting elements, the trees riven by tempest, are the allegory; and the Ocean, dimly seen, figures the end of life, to which the voyager is now approaching. The demon forms are the temptations that beset men in their direst trouble. The upward and imploring look of the voyager, shows his dependence on God, and that faith saves him from the destruction that seems inevitable.
(From catholicposters.com)


The Voyage of Life (1840)
The Voyage of Life: Childhood
Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute Museum of Art, Utica
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


The Voyage of Life (1840)
The Voyage of Life: Youth
Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute Museum of Art, Utica
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


The Voyage of Life (1840)
The Voyage of Life: Manhood
Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute Museum of Art, Utica
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


The Voyage of Life (1840)
The Voyage of Life: Old Age
Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute Museum of Art, Utica
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


While best known for his allegorical paintings such as the Course of Empire and the Voyage of Life series, he did many White Mountain paintings including Flume in the White Mountains; View of Mount Washington; Mount Chocorua; Notch of the White Mountains; View Near Conway; and Mount Washington from the Upper Saco Intervale.
(John J. Henderson at salesianhigh.org)


Sunrise in the Catskill Mountains
Oil on canvas, 1826
National Gallery of Art, Washington
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


View in the White Mountains
Oil on canvas, c.1827
Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


View in the White Mountains
Oil on canvas, 1827
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Mount Chocorua, New Hampshire
Oil on panel, 1827
23 x 32 1/2 inches (58.42 x 82.55 cm)
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Autumn Landscape (Mount Chocorua)
Oil on canvas, c.1827-1828
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


The Oxbow, 1836
View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts
after a Thunderstorm (Oil on canvas)
51 1/2 x 76 in (130.8 x 193 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


Long known as The Oxbow, above, this work is a masterpiece of American landscape painting, laden with possible interpretations. In the midst of painting The Course of Empire, Cole mentioned, in a letter dated March 2, 1836, to his patron Luman Reed, that he was executing a large version of this subject expressly for exhibition and sale. The picture was shown at the National Academy of Design in 1836 as View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm. Cole's interest in the subject probably dates from his 1829 - 32 trip to Europe, during which he made an exact tracing of the view published in Basil Hall's Forty Etchings Made with the Camera Lucida in North America in 1827 and 1828. Hall criticized Americans' inattentiveness to their scenery, and Cole responded with a landscape that lauds the uniqueness of America by encompassing "a union of the picturesque, the sublime, and the magnificent." Although often ambivalent about the subjugation of the land, here the artist juxtaposes untamed wilderness and pastoral settlement to emphasize the possibilities of the national landscape, pointing to the future prospect of the American nation. Cole's unequivocal construction and composition of the scene, charged with moral significance, is reinforced by his depiction of himself in the middle distance, perched on a promontory painting the Oxbow. He is an American producing American art, in communion with American scenery. There are both sketchbook drawings with annotations and related oil sketches of this subject. Many other artists copied or imitated the painting.
(Copyright © 2000–2009 The Metropolitan Museum of Art)


View on the Catskill - Early Autumn
Oil on canvas, 1837
38 7/8 x 62 7/8 inches (99 x 160 cm)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Schroon Mountain, Adirondacks
Oil on canvas, 1838
39 3/8 x 63 in (100 x 160 cm)
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Image from The Artchive


The Notch of the White Mountains (Crawford Notch)
Oil on canvas, 1839
National Gallery of Art, Washington
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Catskill Mountain House: The Four Elements
Oil on canvas, 1843-1844
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Mount Aetna from Taormina
Oil on canvas, 1844
32 1/4 x 48 in (81.9 x 121.9 cm)
Lyman Allen Museum, New London, Connecticut
Image from The Artchive

and compare.....

Theater
Photo from cvr.ai.uiuc.edu


"What a magnificent site! Etna, above, with its eternal snows towering in the heavens — the ranges of nearer mountains — the deep romantic valley … I have never seen anything like it". So wrote the American artist Thomas Cole (1801-48) of Taormina in Sicily, which he visited in April 1842. While staying at Taormina he climbed Mount Etna, and made many sketches of the landscape and the Greek and Roman remains that were to be found there. When he returned to the United States he produced several large paintings based on his time in Sicily, of which ‘Mount Etna from Taormina’ is one of the most notable.
Cole’s view of Etna is structured into three zones, following established classical landscape tradition: foreground, middle ground and distance. The foreground represents the past, in the form of the ancient Teatro Greco, the Greek theatre (although most the presently visible structure is Roman), one of the celebrated sights of Taormina. Beyond the ruined arches and broken columns of the theatre lies the present, in the form of the cultivated valley in which man and nature exist in pastoral harmony. Still further beyond, and dominating the canvas, is Mount Etna, representing the eternal. Cole thus imbues his landscape with a narrative meaning, reflecting on the long history of human civilization and yet its relative insigificance and fragility compared with the eternal forces of divinely-ordered nature.
(From The Volcanism Blog)


Blackhead Range, 2006
Photographed by Daniel Case
View from the western face of Twin Mountain
Source Originally from en.wikipedia
Original uploader was Daniel Case at en.wikipedia


Thomas Cole Mountain in winter ("Camel's Hump")
View from nearby 3,520' (1,073 m) peak to west
Author Daniel Case, 2007
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The theory of the Sublime was the guiding philosophy that inspired Thomas Cole and his followers to sketch and paint along the Hudson River and its environs. Subscribing to this concept meant believing that God had created the land, and that human beings could commune with that God by prescribed reverential behavior. In order to succeed, one must be quiet, alone and far away from civilization in unspoiled Nature. Experiencing the Sublime, one then could and should express their exalted feelings through paintings or literature that, in turn, inspired others to believe that the landscape had supernatural powers. In other words, having a Sublime experience whose source was the wilderness landscape meant the recipient was elevated personally and aesthetically above most of humanity, and was then duty-bound to share the wonders of the experience so that other might be ‘pulled up’ as well. A sublime experience was an ultimate experience, and much more complex than the limiting descriptions of ‘beautiful’ or ‘picturesque’.
A part of Romanticism is Luminism, an exaggeration device whereby the effects of light are manipulated so that it appears to be saturating or atmospheric, and so that certain natural forms seem ‘stage lit’. Many Hudson River School painters showed a fascination with Luminism because of their generally held view that the natural light, especially of sunrise and sunset, on the American wilderness was clearer and more radiant than the counterparts of England and the European continent. Expressing this idea gave American painters a feeling of superiority about their subject matter. Also creating this special light on canvas had the potential of spiritually transporting the artist and viewers to the ‘Source’, meaning the place of origination of the emanating light from where one could more clearly understand the universe.
(copyright © 2000-2009 AskART)


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