ART: America's Prodigy

Thomas Cole's landscapes of the young nation as an imperiled Arcadia made him a culture hero

During his short life -- he died in 1848, at the age of 47 -- Thomas Cole became something of a national culture hero: a young one for a young nation. He was esteemed as the founder of national landscape painting in the U.S. -- the so-called Hudson River School. At his death, the wild places of the Catskills mourned him. "We might dream," declaimed William Cullen Bryant in his funeral oration on Cole, "that the conscious valleys miss his accustomed visits and that the autumnal glories of the woods are paler because of his departure." His death, opined a newspaper...

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