Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thomas Cole: View on the Catskill, Early Autumn

Thomas Cole. Oil on canvas, 1836-37, 39 x 63 in. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thomas Cole was well known for his breathtaking paintings of landscapes. In 1825, Cole discovered the beauty of the Catskill wilderness which he depicts in the painting "View on the Catskill, Early Autumn". The painting was in response to the construction of the Canajoharie and Catskill Railroad through his much loved Catskill wilderness. The painting, however, does not include the construction of the railroad. Cole wanted to paint the landscape the way he knew it before the deforestation. Cole wrote about the deforestation:

"The copper-hearted barbarians are cutting all the trees down in the beautiful valley on which I have looked often with a loving eye—this throws quite a gloom over my spring anticipations—tell this to Durand, not that I wish to give him pain, but that I want him to join with me in maledictions on all dollar-godded utilitarians."

Even though the Cole chose to omit the construction of the railroad he still leaves a small warning in the left corner of a stump of a tree that has been cut down. The people in the foreground are enjoying nature without disrupting it "showing a healthy relationship between human beings and the natural environment, one which Cole hoped would be preserved despite the onslaught of technology"

Source: http://www.thomascole.org

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