Eden to Empire

Thomas Cole

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Wednesday 12 September 2018



Born in Lancashire in 1801, Thomas Cole emigrated to America at the age of sixteen with his father. He studied briefly at the Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and then moved to New York. Following a sketching tour along the Hudson River, Cole returned to his studio in New York and quickly became an artistic sensation. His subject matter was the natural wilderness in the rugged landscapes of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley.

Drawing freely from Dutch and Italian landscape artists including Ruysdael, Claude and Salvator Rosa, Cole’s landscapes were emotionally charged and viewed as visual sermons. They appealed to the sense of Christian redemption which struck a chord with hardworking and ambitious Protestant America. Yet, Cole’s art was at the same time viewed as mournful, infused with intense personal distress at the rapid vanishing of America’s wilderness. By the time of his early death in 1848, he had made landscape painting the principle genre in American art.       

‘Thomas Cole: Eden to Empire’ is an important exhibition jointly organised by the National Gallery and New York’s Metropolitan Museum. Cole’s iconic ‘Course of Empire’ cycle of paintings and ‘The Oxbow’ (never before seen in the UK) are just some of his works which will be on display. Along with others by his English contemporaries Constable and Turner, and some of his American successors, the exhibition will create a dialogue between American and European artists of the mid-nineteenth century.

Two morning lectures will be followed by an afternoon visit to the National Gallery’s exhibition.  £69, Members of the Art Fund £64, National Gallery Members £59 

Study Days in London are held at The Linnaean Society in Piccadilly and begin with coffee at 10.30 am; the lectures start at 11.00 am

  • Included: Morning coffee, two morning lectures, entry to the National Gallery
  • Not included: Travel to/from London, Lunch
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