Sarah Cole (1805–1857)
Landscape with Church, 1846
Oil on artist board, 10 1/8 × 13¼ in.
Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Gift of Lynne Hill Bohnsack, TC.1999.1

Sarah Cole was a professional artist who made paintings, drawings, and engravings. Her brother was Thomas Cole. Sarah grew up in England and emigrated to the United States with her family in 1818. This painting is an original composition featuring the church in Duffield, Lancashire, where her and Thomas’s parents were married. Sarah lived primarily with their parents in New York City, and made regular journeys to Catskill to visit her brother. Sarah and Thomas hiked together to Kaaterskill Clove and through the wooded hills of the Village of Catskill. They were close as sister and brother, but also shared a bond through art and confided in each other as artists. Sarah counseled her brother during moments of artist doubt. She wrote to Thomas in 1836: “In a little while you will find that the art will return to you, and that you will return to the art with renewed pleasure, the lights and shadows of this life are like the lights and shadows in your own pictures. The one makes the other more beautiful.” When Sarah first began to paint in 1837, she wrote to her brother: “I have again been painting on my own and find it rather a difficult piece of business and I very often stand in need of a word from you.” After Thomas’ death, Sarah began to live in the Cole family home. She exhibited and sold her work to help provide for herself and her family.

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Brooke KrancerLandscape with Church