Thomas Cole, 1801-1848

Mathew Brady Studio
Daguerreotype, circa 1846
National Portrait Gallery
Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, D.C.;
gift of Edith Cole Silberstein

Thomas Cole had already trained as a wood engraver in Liverpool when he and his family arrived in Philadelphia in 1819. After working in a variety of trades, Cole came to New York in the early 1820s and began to sell his landscape paintings to important patrons, including John Trumbull and William Cullen Bryant. His success was immediate, and as Asher B. Durand remembered, "His fame spread like wildfire." Cole's romantic images combined the sensibility of British romantic poets with the rough beauty of American scenery, to create a new form of painting that Americans claimed for their own. When Brady made this daguerreotype portrait in the late 1840s, Cole was one of the best-known artists in America.

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