Thomas Cole

The Emerging American Character through Art

The Oxbow, 1836

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Analysis of the Oxbow

This piece by Cole demonstrates the beauty and greatness of the Nation’s wilderness. With the piece’s vast landscape and lush green lands ahead this painting demonstrated the American ideal that was coming into play at this time, which showed the tremendous opportunity in the country. People at this time in the nation began to have an increased and unified sense of Nationalism and through artists like Cole, this sense of opportunity and pride help to strengthen the American Zeal.

Home in the Woods, 1847

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Analysis of Home in the Woods

This piece by Cole shows the beginning of expansion into these unexplored and at this point unknown lands. These new lands represented great opportunity for the nation, and the citizens of the United States at this time felt a great surge of pride. The American Character came to be one based on the idea that there was more freedom in this nation than had ever been experienced and these new lands came to be the symbol of this freedom. The peaceful, serene view of nature represented in this work by Cole shows the great freedom that soon became an essential part to the American Character.

View of the Round-Top in the Catskill Mountain, 1827

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Analysis of View of the Round-Top in the Catskill Mountain

This piece of work demonstrates Cole’s love for nature and the serine, idealistic images of nature that he became popular for are featured in this piece. This piece shows the beauty and power that the nation has as it demonstrated the great lands of the United States. The strength and beauty demonstrated in this piece helped people become more unified and excited about where the country was headed at this time. The ideas of Rags to Riches and the American Dream filled the people in this nation with a sense of identity and pride. The Nationalistic wave swept through the country helped to make the American Character.

Thomas Cole's Personal Background

Thomas Cole was born in England in 1801 and came to the United States with his family during 1808. Cole lived in Ohio and Pennsylvania during his time in the United States. Cole was mostly self taught, however, he worked with the Philadelphia Academy for a time and by the age of 20 was a member of the National Academy. During 1829-1832 Cole went back to Britain and traveled around France and Italy. This was a very productive time for Cole and much of his inspiration comes from this time. He was able to meet many American travelers, and upon returning to the states he made his home is the Catskill Mountains. His home was very reserved and the nature and beauty Cole saw around him served as his inspiration for much of his later work. In 1836 Thomas Cole married Maria Bartow. Later in his life he began to have finical troubles and in 1843 he realized that he had become a very public figure. Thomas Cole died on February 11th 1848 at his home in the Catskill Mountains, called Cedar Grove.

Thomas Cole's Contribution to the Art World

Thomas Cole was involved in the mid 19th century movement called The Hudson River School. This movement was embodied by landscape painters whose view of the scene in front of them was influenced by Romanticism. This movement is named after the paintings, which depict the Hudson Valley and the Catskill mountains. The themes in this movement reflect the themes in the nation as they empathize exploration, discovery and settlement. The paintings also show the peaceful qualities of nature in which humans can co-exist.

American Pride and Feelings of Nationalism Reflected in this Work

The sense of American Pride and feelings of Nationalism are evident in Cole’s work. Thomas Cole’s paintings became known for their idealistic, beautiful, serene scenes of nature. These scenes of nature showed the beauty and opportunity that the nation held, which was before them and being explored at this time. This marked a very important time for the nation and the people in the nation through artwork like Cole’s were able to become excited and unified about the nation around them. They felt a sense of self and Nationalism within their nation and they were able to recognize the extreme opportunity present in this nation. There was more freedom than had ever been experienced in any society before. The ideas of Rags to Riches and the American Dream filled the people with pride, forming the American Character. It is through artists like Cole that these ideas formed and swept the nation. This can be attributed for because of the great opportunity and beauty depicted for the nation in these paintings.