Thomas Cole was part of the Hudson River School of painters. Thomas Cole, daguerreotype from Mathew Brady's studio, ca. 1844-48. Collection of Library of Congress,
Thomas Cole was a popular artist in nineteenth century America.
Cole was born in England on February 1, 1801. In 1819, his family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Cole's father was a woolen manufacturer and he hoped that a better life could be found for his family in the United States. In America, Cole and his father began producing wallpaper. Cole printed the design on the paper. He developed a love of painting and soon began painting landscapes. During the early 1820s, Cole lived for a brief time in Steubenville, Ohio. Among his first paintings were scenes of the Ohio River Valley. He preferred painting autumn scenes and developed a following in both the United States and England.
Cole's works were very well received in the United States. Many people welcomed his realistic portrayal of the American landscape. In Europe, some people criticized Cole's work for being too unrealistic. Many Europeans were not used to the dense forests of the United States and could not believe that Cole's paintings accurately depicted the American countryside. Cole also painted background scenery for theaters and playhouses in New York City. He made several trips to Europe and displayed his work at England's Royal Academy.
Interested in architecture as well as art, Cole submitted an entry to the design contest for a new State House in Columbus in 1838. He won third prize in the capital competition, and many of his ideas were incorporated into the completed building.
Thomas Cole died on February 11, 1848, in Catskill, New York.