Prominent Figures: List of Artists

The following is a partial list of major and minor artists of the Hudson River School of landscape painting. This genre was popularized by well over 100 artists during a period that lasted from 1825 through approximately 1890. Significant, known relationships with Thomas Cole or Cedar Grove are shown in bold.

Henry Ary c. 1807 – 1852
Alfred Fitch Bellows 1829 – 1883
Albert Bierstadt 1830 – 1902
DeWitt Clinton Boutelle 1820 – 1884
James Renwick Brevoort 1832 – 1918
Alfred Thompson Bricher 1837 – 1908
Albert D’Orient Browere 1814 – 1887
William Mason Brown 1828 – 1898
John Hermann Carmiencke 1810 – 1867
John William Casilear 1811 – 1893
Benjamin Champney 1817 – 1907
Charles H. Chapin 1830 – 1898

Frederic Edwin Church
Studied two years under Cole at Cedar Grove; later hired Theodore Cole to work at Olana
1826 – 1900
Charles Codman

Thomas Cole

1800 – 1842


Samuel Colman, Jr. 1832 – 1920
Jasper Francis Cropsey 1823 – 1900
Thomas Doughty 1793 – 1856
Robert S. Duncanson 1821 – 1872

Asher B. Durand
Close friend and established engraver; Cole encouraged him to become a painter
1796 – 1886
Alvan Fisher 1792 – 1863
Samuel Lancaster Gerry 1812 – 1891
Sanford Robinson Gifford 1823 – 1880
Regis Francis Gignoux 1816 – 1882
Eliza Greatorex 1820 – 1897
James McDougal Hart 1828 – 1901
William McDougal Hart 1823 – 1894
Martin Johnson Heade 1819 – 1904
J. Antonio Hekking 1830 – c.1903
George Hetzel 1826 – 1899
James Hope c.1819 – 1892
Richard William Hubbard 1816 – 1888
Daniel Huntington 1816 – 1891
George Inness 1825 – 1894
David Johnson 1827 – 1908
John Frederick Kensett 1816 – 1872
Charles W. Knapp 1823 – 1900
Fitz Hugh Lane 1804 – 1865
Homer Dodge Martin 1836 – 1897
Jervis McEntee 1828 – 1890
Louis Remy Mignot 1831 – 1870

Charles Herbert Moore
Painted scenes of Cedar Grove and rented studio space at Cedar Grove after Cole’s death
1840 – 1930
Thomas Moran 1837 – 1926
John Adams Parker 1827 – c.1905
Arthur Parton 1842 – 1914

Henry Cheever Pratt
Travelled with Cole in Maine New Hampshire
1803 – 1880
William Trost Richards 1833 – 1905
Thomas P. Rossiter 1818 – 1871
Aaron Draper Shattuck 1832 – 1928
George Henry Smillie 1840 – 1921
James D. Smillie 1833 – 1909
William T. R. Smith 1812 – 1896
William Louis Sonntag 1822 – 1899

Benjamin Stone
Rented studio space at Cedar Grove after Cole’s death
1829 – 1906
Paul Weber 1823 – 1916
T. Worthington Whittredge 1820 – 1910
John Williamson 1816 – 1885
Alexander H. Wyant 1836 – 1892
rootProminent Figures: List of Artists

Further Reading

Baigell, Matthew.Thomas Cole. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1981.

Cole, Thomas.The Correspondence Of Thomas Cole and Daniel Wadsworth:Letters in the Watkinson Library, Trinity College, Hartford and New York State Library, Albany N.Y.Edited by J. Bard McNulty. Hartford, Connecticut: Connecticut Historical Society, 1983.

Cole, Thomas.Thomas Cole’s Poetry:The Collected Poems Of America’s Foremost Painter of the Hudson River School Reflecting His Feelings for Nature and the Romantic Spirit of the Nineteenth Century.Compiled and edited by Marshall B. Tymn. York, Pennsylvania: Liberty Cap Books, 1972.

Cole, Thomas.The Collected Essays and Prose Sketches. Edited By Marshall Tymn. St. Paul, Minnesota: The John Colet Press, 1980.

Flexner, James Thomas.History of American Painting: That Wilder Image, the Native School from Thomas Cole to Winslow Homer.Boston: Little, Brown, 1962; New York: Dover Publications, 1970, 1988.

Foshay, Ella M. and Novak, Barbara.Intimate Friends: Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, and William Cullen Bryant.New York: The New York Historical Society, 2000; North Country Books, 2001.

Kelly, Franklin.Frederic Edwin Church and the National Landscape. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988

Myers, Kenneth.The Catskills: Painters, Writers, and Tourists in the Mountains, 1820-1895.Yonkers, New York: Hudson River Museum of Westchester, 1987, 1988. Distributed by University Press of New England, Hanover.

Myers, Kenneth.“On the Cultural Construction of Landscape Experience: Contact to 1830.” From American Iconology.Edited by David C. Miller. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1993.

Noble, Louis Legrand.The Life and Works of Thomas Cole.Edited by Elliot S. Vesell. Hensonville, New York: Black Dome Press, 1997 (reprint).

Parry, Ellwood C., III.The Art of Thomas Cole: Ambition and Imagination.Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press, 1988.
Powell, Earl A.Thomas Cole.New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1990, 2000.

Robinson, Christine T.Thomas Cole: Drawn to Nature. With essays by John Stilgoe, Ellwood C. Parry III, and Francis F. Dunwell. Albany, New York: Albany Institute of History and Art, 1993.

Schuyler, David.The New Urban Landscape: The Redefinition of City Form in Nineteenth-Century America.Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986, 1988.

Sweeney, J. Gray.“’Endued with Rare Genius:’ Frederic Edwin Church’s To the Memory of Cole.” American Art, Winter 1988. Vol. 2, No. 1.

Toole, Robert M. “‘Quiet Harbor’: Thomas Cole’s Cedar Grove”, The Hudson River Valley Review (Marist, Vol. 27, No. 1, Autumn 2010)

Truettner, William H. and Wallach, Alan (editors). Thomas Cole: Landscape into History. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press; Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1994.

Wallach, Alan. “Thomas Cole and the Aristocracy.” From Reading American Art. Edited by Marianne Dozema, Elizabeth Milroy, and Marianne Doezema. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1998, pp. 79-108.

A selection of books can be purchased through our online Museum Shop.

rootFurther Reading

New Studio Ribbon Cutting

Sunday, May 1, 11 am

Join us on Sunday May 1st to celebrate the offical opening of the New Studio and the 2016 exhibition, Thomas Cole: The Artist as Architect. The day begins at 11 am with refreshments, live music, and free admission. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of Thomas Cole’s New Studio begins at noon. Additionally, guests may purchase tickets to attend the Curator’s Talk with Annette Blaugrund to learn more about the 2016 exhibition. Tickets for the talk are $9 or $7 for members.

After many years of research and a successful capital campaign, the New Studio has been reconstructed on its original footprint across the lawn from the artist’s home in Catskill, New York. The exterior of the New Studio is an exact recreation of the building that Cole designed for use as his workspace for the last year of his life. The interior provides a museum-quality gallery that will now be used to illuminate Cole’s art and to highlight his extraordinary influence on American art – past, present, and future. The inaugural exhibition in this new space is Thomas Cole: The Artist as Architect.

The exhibition’s curator, Annette Blaugrund, is an independent scholar, author, and curator and was director of the National Academy Museum for 11 years. She has worked at the Brooklyn Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the New-York Historical Society, and has taught at Columbia University, where she earned her PhD in art history. She has written numerous books on American art and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy in 2008 and was named Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1992.


rootNew Studio Ribbon Cutting

2016 Exhibition – Thomas Cole: The Artist as Architect

We are excited to announce our 2016 exhibition, curated by noted scholar Annette Blaugrund with the assistance of our associate curator Kate Menconeri, opening May 1, 2016 and on view through October 30, 2016. In celebration of the recreation of Thomas Cole’s self-designed Italianate studio at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, the exhibition and the accompanying book focus on Cole’s architectural interests through architectural elements in his paintings and drawings as well as in both his realized and visionary projects, expanding our understanding of the breadth of his talents and interests.

This exhibition is the inaugural exhibition to be held in the “New Studio” building and will include 26 paintings and drawings, as well as a scale model, two of the artist’s books about architecture, and primary source documents. The central work of the exhibition is Cole’s 1840 painting “The Architect’s Dream,” depicting the artist overlooking a panorama of architectural styles. Accompanying the exhibition will be a new hardcover book of the same title to be published and released on April 19, 2016 by The Monacelli Press. The exhibition will run from May 1 through October 30 at The Thomas Cole National Historic Site and then travel to The Columbus Museum of Art, where it will be on view from November 18 through February 12, 2017. Click here for the full press release.

The exhibition is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of an over-arching project entitled “Thomas Cole and the Roots of the Conservation Movement,” designed to highlight the 19th-century tradition of conserving iconic American landscapes. Additional support is provided by the County Initiative Program of the Greene County Legislature, administered by the Greene County Council on the Arts. The accompanying printed publication is supported by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art and several individual funders.

Exhibition Catalogue

Credit: Thomas Cole, The Architect’s Dream, 1840, 53 x 84 in. Toledo Museum of Art

root2016 Exhibition – Thomas Cole: The Artist as Architect

Group Visits

Group Visit Package, Standard (May-October, Wednesday – Sunday):

Upon arrival, your group will be welcomed and oriented by a knowledgeable member of the Education staff. A 15-20 minute introduction to the Site, the Cole family, and some common themes of Thomas Cole’s artwork is followed by time for guests to explore the historic buildings and exhibitions at their own pace in a self-guided experience. Knowledgeable staff members are located in all spaces to discuss ideas and answer questions. Each group member will receive a copy of our Guide Book.

Regular Group Rates: $25 per person (May through September); $27 per person (October peak season). Rates include our Guide Book publication at a discounted rate of $4 ($6 value). Discounts do not apply to the group rates.

College/University Group Rates: $16 per person. Discounts do not apply to the group rates.


To make a group visit request, please fill out this form, and we will be in contact with you to schedule your visit.

Custom Guided Tour

Custom Tours are led by senior staff members. You may request for your tour to include specific areas depending on the interests of your group. Such topics might include the historic interior decoration and furnishings; a focus on a particular exhibition; or a behind the scenes look at the innovative Parlors installation. Availability of Custom Tours is limited, so please plan ahead.

Rates: $500 for up to 10 people. Each additional person is $50/each.

Bus Parking

Motor coach and bus drop off is located beside the New Studio building, situated on the south side of our campus. We ask that motor coaches avoid parking in our visitor lot that is shared with Temple Israel, as it is inaccessible for buses of that size. Motor coach and bus drivers should use the following directions below.

• Turn off of Spring Street onto High Street
• Turn left at Woodland Avenue
• Make a final left onto Hudson Avenue
• Look for the THOMAS COLE SITE GROUP DROP-OFF sign and let passengers out beside the New Studio building

Cars and passenger vans may park in our visitor parking lot.

If you have questions, please email us at

Arrival & Check-In

Your tour guide(s) will meet you inside the New Studio shortly after your arrival time. If you are running late on the date of your visit, please call our Visitor Center at 518-943-7465 x 2. We recommend that you allow 2 hours for your entire visit so that you may enjoy the special exhibition in the New Studio, the Main House, the Visitor Center & Shop, and the grounds.

If you are looking for information on School & Youth Visits, click here.

rootGroup Visits

School Programs

Bring History to Life!

School programs at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site promote learning through student participation in history, art, literature and preservation.  Our programs encourage students to explore in new ways, making history come alive.

General Information

By participating in the Thomas Cole Historic Site’s school programs, students will build higher level thinking skills while investigating the life and times of America’s most influential landscape painter, Thomas Cole. Students’ investigations begin when your class receives a package of evidence in the mail as the basis for pre-visit activities. The evidence includes documents, photographs and a powerpoint presentation introducing the class to Thomas Cole, the Hudson River School of Art, and Cedar Grove. Afterwards the students visit the historic site and explore more evidence about the life and creative output of Thomas Cole. Students examine data, gather information, and draw conclusions from their personal experiences. All school programs meet New York State learning standards for grades K-12.

An introduction to Thomas Cole’s Story

Get kids engaged before they even step in the door. Beloved children’s book author and illustrator Hudson Talbott takes us on Thomas Cole’s adventure in “Picturing America: Thomas Cole And The Birth of American Art.”


1) Youth Tour

The students will visit the historic home, studios, and grounds of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. This special tour for students will pass through the historic flower garden and visit the site’s famous 200-year old Honey Locust Tree. The tour will then lead the group to the porch of the Main House, where perfect views of the Catskill Mountain range can be enjoyed. Students then enter the 1815 Federal yellow-brick Main House and tour the historic rooms where the Cole family lived, including the West Parlor where Thomas Cole was married. The Main House also includes gallery rooms, where exhibitions of art from the Hudson River School are on display. The tour continues into the “Old Studio” where Cole painted many of his best known works. The studio still contains Cole’s original easels and art-making materials.  The tour also includes a visit to the “New Studio” and the special exhibition inside it. This program lasts approximately one hour and costs $4-8 per student, on a sliding scale.

2) Thomas Cole and the Creative Process

Students examine Thomas Cole’s 1839 painting studio and learn what it was like to be an artist in the 19th century.  Students learn about the life of Thomas Cole, the Hudson River School of Art, and about the historic site.  The students then create sketches based on their experiences and turn these sketches into original paintings.  This program involves a youth tour and art project.  The entire program lasts approximately 2.5 hours and the cost is $6-12 per student, on a sliding scale.

Program Details

School Programs are offered Wednesday through Friday 9:30am to 1:00pm, May through October. Please make your group’s reservation at least one month in advance in order to secure your desired date and time.

Group size
Groups larger than 75 students may be accommodated when split over the course of two days.


For More Information

Contact: Heather Paroubek, Education Manager:


rootSchool Programs

The Village of Catskill in the Hudson Valley

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site sits near the Hudson River with a view of the Catskill Mountains, surrounded by other cultural destinations, lively restaurants, and world-renowned natural beauty. 

If you’re looking to plan your visit to the historic site, click here. To plan the rest of your stay, check out our recommendations below. From dazzling hikes in the Great Northern Catskills to the best places to sleep, we’ve got you covered.

When Thomas Cole first traveled up the Hudson River in 1825, he fell in love with this picturesque village on the water. Today, the Village of Catskill welcomes you with beautiful 19th-century architecture along the historic main street with shops and galleries, river activities including fishing and boating, waterfront restaurants, and an Audubon nature preserve where if you’re lucky you can spot a Bald Eagle.

General Visiting Information


The official website for visiting Greene County, where the Thomas Cole Site is located. This website includes a comprehensive listing of places to stay, places to eat, sights, activities and outdoor adventures.

Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area: A user-friendly website with in-depth information about the historic, cultural and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley. You can see a list of recommended sights to visit, create your own itinerary, or request free maps and brochures about visiting the Hudson River Valley.


Where to Eat

In Catskill…

Avalon Lounge, Music venue with a Korean kitchen. Right off Main Street.

Ambrosia Diner, A classic retro diner.

Crossroads Brewing Co, A water-front tap room and brewery in Catskill.

Gracie’s Luncheonette, A stylish diner where everything is homemade, right down to the ketchup. Located in nearby Leeds.

Hartland on Hudson, One of a kind stationery and coffee bar. Located in nearby Leeds.

New York Restaurant, The local spot for lunch and dinner. Right on Main Street.

Port of Call, Waterfront dining and seafood.

Willa’s Bakery Cafe, A waterfront breakfast and lunch spot on Catskill Creek. Just off Main Street.


Where to Stay

Photo by The Catskill Milliner

Photo by The Catskill Milliner

The Catskill Milliner: Boutique guest house and inn located just blocks from Catskill’s Main Street, the Thomas Cole Site, and the Hudson River.

Catskill Village House: Located on Main Street in the historic Village of Catskill, an entire home to rent with all your friends.

Hotel Mountain Brook: Adirondack-style lodge in Hunter with views of the Catskill Mountains

Hudson Milliner: A boutique guesthouse and inn located in the City of Hudson, across the river.

The Kaaterskill: A Farm Estate in the outskirts of the Town of Catskill.

The Morgan State House: The Hudson River Valley Painters Package

Scribner’s Catskill Lodge:  Recently reopened following an extensive renovation for a new generation of urban explorers,  the lodge features thoughtful design, friendly service, and delicious food and drinks in a mountain setting.

The Stewart House:  A recently renovated 11-room “River House” in nearby Athens, NY that first opened its doors in 1883 with a restaurant.

The Wick, A new full-service boutique hotel in Hudson, NY.

WM Farmer and Sons: Rustic chic accommodations and restaurant in Hudson, NY.


Nearby Attractions

Hudson River School Art Trail: Take a drive to the nearby views that Thomas Cole painted.

Hudson River Skywalk: See America’s first canvas with the Hudson River Skywalk, a new historic and scenic walkway at the place where American landscape painting began. The new walkway connects the Thomas Cole Site with Frederic Church’s Olana over the Rip Van Winkle.

Mountain Top Arboretum: A public garden in the Catskill Mountains, with trails connecting 178 acres of plant collections, meadows, wetlands, forest, and more.

RamsHorn-Livingston Audubon Sanctuary: Located in the Village of Catskill, this compact sanctuary contains over 436 acres of tidal marsh and swamp, upland forests and fallow farm fields. Keep your eyes peeled for Bald Eagles.

Scenic Hudson and Greene Land Trusts’ Mawignack Preserve: One mile loop trail along Catskill Creek, an area that Thomas Cole painted more than any other subject.

Olana State Historic Site: Just two miles away is the magnificent home of artist Frederic Church.

The Greene County Historical Society: Nine miles north is the Bronck Museum, the Hudson Valley’s oldest home, built in 1663.

City of Hudson: Across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge is this hopping city with shopping, restaurants and antiques.



Amtrak Station: Located in Hudson, NY, about a 10-minute drive from the Cole Site

Hudson Region Transport LLC 

Cubs Taxi and Airport Service

There is limited taxi service and limited Uber and Lyft availability in the area, so please plan ahead.


Maps for download

Hiking in Greene County

Antiques and Country Stores

Nearby Attractions

Greene County Driving Tours

Itineraries for the Hudson River School Art Trail

rootThe Village of Catskill in the Hudson Valley

Cole’s 19th-century art studio getting a facelift


By Fred Johnsen, Freeman staff


THOMAS Edison had Menlo Park, Theodore Roosevelt had Sagamore Hill, and within these places were “inner sanctums.” For Edison his laboratory, for Roosevelt his trophy room.

In Catskill, the inner sanctum of Hudson River School of Art founder Thomas Cole is gaining new life.

Restoration began Wednesday on Cole’s “Old Studio” at the Cedar Grove Historic Site, where he lived. The project, expected to take about seven months, will entail a full restoration of the building, of which the studio is a part.

SITE DIRECTOR Betsy Jacks said the U.S. National Park Service considers the project to be the most significant restoration going on in the United States today.

“This site has been, for a long time, neglected,” Jacks said. “Like the Hudson River School of Art, it is experiencing a revival. Piece by piece, we’re putting it back together the way it looked in Cole’s time” in the 19th century.

Jacks said that, unlike Cole’s house, the studio is less visible but vastly important. It was in the studio that Cole (1801-48) painted his four-piece series “Voyage of Life” that used landscape as metaphor to depict man’s journey from birth to death.

“This (studio) is perhaps the most important piece,” Jacks said. “The house is the most visible from the street, but the studio is where it all happened.”

DIMENSIONS North of Catskill is the contractor for the restoration project. Company owner Richard Rappleyea said his crew had removed tons of material by Friday, some going to a dump and better pieces being saved.

“We’re going to be taking the studio back to the way it was when Thomas Cole used it when he was doing his paintings,” Rappleyea said.

The project is being overseen by the National Park Service bureau in Boston and will be completed in two phases. Phase 1e carries a price tag of $329,000 and will consist of exterior and studio restoration and structural repairs. Phase 2, which does not yet have an estimated cost, will center on the former barn area that will be used for a visitors’ center and gift shop.

Rappleyea said restoration of the studio alone entails removing several windows not part of the original “purpose built” studio. According to Rappleyea and Jacks, Cole preferred to paint by light coming from the north because northern light provided even illumination without shadows or glare.

Jacks said the studio itself will be restored with the idea in mind that “Cole just stepped out.” This includes the placement of many articles used by Cole, including his paint box, easel and chair.

Buildings on the Cole property originally used for horses and storage will restored authentically, with possible with the planned uses in mind.

CEDAR Grove Building and Grounds Committee Chairman Jack Van Loan said beginning work on the studio is exciting both locally and nationally.

“It’s exciting and a very, very important step for us, the community and the people of the county because we’re saving one of American’s treasures,” Van Loan said.

The project is being funded through a Save America’s Treasures grant and the Catskill-Olana Viewshed Mitigation Fund.


©Daily Freeman 2005 Originally found at

rootCole’s 19th-century art studio getting a facelift

An American Viruoso of Urgent Vision


By: TIMOTHY CAHILL Staff writer

Sunday, August 15, 2004

“To walk with nature as a poet,” wrote Thomas Cole, “is the necessary condition of a perfect artist.”

Ralph Albert Blakelock met this condition, and his finest paintings approach a level of expressive excellence one might call perfection. His life was beset with trouble, however, and it is the turmoil of his private nature that was the artist’s most constant companion.

In the history of American art, Blakelock’s place is small but worthy of attention. An exhibit of 32 paintings and a number of drawings and sketches now at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill demonstrate he was a visionary whose best landscapes strike with the force of a depth charge.

The show is a brief introduction to the artist, and a welcome one. I mostly knew his paintings from reproductions, which is not to know them at all. Several of the works here come from the Salander-O’Reilly Galleries in New York City, augmented with seldom-seen paintings from local museums and private collections.

Elizabeth Stevens of Salander-O’Reilly assembled the exhibit, which also includes historic objects including Blakelock’s leather-covered sketchbook, his palette and a dinged metal paint box, crowded with smeared, half-used paint tubes. Some of the items were supplied by Blakelock’s descendants, who still reside in Greene County, and have never been displayed before. Most remarkable is a hand-drawn map of the Western states the artist Blakelock visited; written on the back is a long list of the towns he stopped in.

A fitting location

The Cole home Cedar Grove is a fitting location for the exhibit, since Blakelock’s first inspiration came from the Hudson River School. He was born in 1847, the year before Cole died, and grew up in New York City. Blakelock taught himself how to paint, emulating first the meticulous and reverent styles of Cole, Asher B. Durand and Frederic Church. In his 20s, at an age when other artists looked to Europe for training and refinement, Blakelock traveled alone on his first of three trips out West.

In the 1870s, Blakelock found his artistic voice, abandoning the tidiness of the Hudson River painters for an expressive style built on color and energy. An untitled painting from 1870 shows a log cabin in a mountain glade. It isn’t the scene that captures the artist’s attention, but the brilliant clash of crimson and fading orange of the fall foliage.

Blakelock used color the way certain composers use percussion, to set his art in violent motion. His “Indian Encampment,” of a single tepee in a woodland setting, glows a restless ocher. In a nearby untitled landscape, the evening sky resembles a lava flow. And an undated “Sunset” is a raucous solo of russet beneath layers of blue-gray and pale yellow glazes.

Artistic slang

Blakelock was admired by painters Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock for the expressiveness of his paint. He often laid on pigment thick, as if he couldn’t get it out of the tube and onto the canvas fast enough. He was speaking in an artistic slang that time would catch up with eventually. Had Blakelock lived 50 years later, he might well have been a pioneer of abstraction.

The arc of his career moved Blakelock away from representation to realms of memory and emotion. Look at “Indian Ocean,” from 1919, the year the painter died. It’s an almost minimalist composition, with a still, hard-edged horizon. Above, the blue-gray sky looks rubbed on with rags, while the moonlight in the waves is almost pointillist in its juxtaposition of color. You can’t see the moon itself in the painting; it’s somewhere above the frame.

Nocturnes were a common motif for Blakelock. One of the show’s masterpieces is on the stairway leading up to the second-floor gallery, titled simply “Moonlight.” Dated uncertainly between 1880 and 1899, the painting shows a full moon in a blue-green sky. The moon is bright, but, except for the reflection on a small pond, the landscape in it is thrown into an opaque murk. Why isn’t there more light on the scene? Can we read it as a metaphor for that tumultuous time in Blakelock’s life, when money to support his nine children was scare, and he was sometimes forced to paint trinkets in a factory, or mass-produce banal landscapes?

Whatever the reason, the darkness of the earth only accentuates the brilliance of the moon. Blakelock, like Robert Frost, was “one acquainted with the night.” He understood the cold, mesmerizing lunar light. Only van Gogh painted moons with as much melancholy ardor.

The moon is the lantern of eccentrics and the beacon of madmen. In the 1890s, Blakelock began to manifest mental illness that eventually institutionalized him for most of the rest of his life. The end of the show has several paintings made during his confinement at the Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital for the Insane in Middletown, Orange County rough, quick oil sketches that seem at once to be a collective wail and refuge. One, a nighttime idyll with two figures, suggests a wistful longing for youth.

Like his more famous contemporary Albert Pinkham Ryder, Ralph Blakelock spoke in the indigenous voice of the soul. His paintings have the primal urgency of seekers who never quite find what they’re looking for.

Timothy Cahill can be reached at 454-5084 or FACTS:ART REVIEW “RALPH EDWARD BLAKELOCK” Where: Thomas Cole National Historic Site, 218 Spring St., Catskill Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday Closes: Oct. 31 Admission: $5 (includes tour of the Cole house)Info: 943-7465;

All Times Union materials copyright 1996-2005, Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation, Albany, N.Y.

rootAn American Viruoso of Urgent Vision

Inside the artist’s studio: Cole’s work space being restored


By Jonathan Ment, Freeman staff


AN OLD barn behind the Thomas Cole house on Spring Street in Catskill has been an antiques shop, an apartment house and, yes, a residence for animals.

But before all that, half the structure served as a storehouse and an art studio for Cole, the founder of the 19th-century art movement known as the Hudson River School.

The studio, built in 1839 and believed to be the first purposely constructed artist’s studio in America, will reopen Oct. 3. In the modest wood-and-brick structure, Cole painted his most widely distributed series, “The Voyage of Life” – a series of four paintings, each measuring more than 4 by 6 feet.

Grants totaling nearly $500,000 from the preservation group Save America’s Treasures; the Catskill-Olana Scenic Mitigation Fund, funded by Athens Generating; and Benjamin Moore & Co. will, by that time, have restored the studio to the way it looked in the 1840s.

BETSY Jacks, director of Cedar Grove, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, said work on the property is overseen by the National Park Service, which has done extensive research to determine what the site was like originally. The property is owned by the Greene County Historical Society.

“As we opened a wall, we found an original shutter,” Jacks said.

Finds like that, numerous paintings created in the studio and early photographs of the property helped direct the restoration, which includes all period materials. “If it’s not from the 1830s or 1840s, it has to go,” Jacks said. “(But) we had a painting, from the 1860s, that is so detailed we can identify the flowers. We are in the process of restoring or replanting the original flowers.”

AND THROUGH scientific analysis of soils and rocks, the precise locations of the original gardens’ on the grounds were identified.

“In contrast to Olana (almost across the Hudson River in Columbia County), this was a working farm,” Jacks said. “Olana was a park. Here, they had chickens running around.”

Olana is the Persian-style mansion and studio built by Frederic Church, a Hudson River School painter from later in the 19th century who was a student of Cole’s.

“In the early days, American art wasn’t popular,” Jacks said. “Cole was a pioneer.”

WHEN THE barn at the Cole house was being built, Cole sought to include a 19-by-20-foot space in which to work. He used what now is known as the Storehouse Studio for seven years before building a more elaborate Italianate-styled studio that no longer stands. (It was demolished in the 1920s.)

“The loss of historic buildings really cuts deep,” Jacks said. The barn almost fell, too, she said, because “it was in such bad shape.”

“We’re really just lucky that it came down to us,” she said. AS AN architect, Cole designed that second studio, a church in Catskill that since has been replaced, a privy that still stands at Cedar Grove and a home for his family that never was built because his main patron died.

“He never became a wealthy man,” Jacks said.

THE COLE house, on property that belonged to John Alexander Thomson, the uncle of Cole’s wife, Maria Bartow, is now a museum. Some of the family’s possessions, auctioned on the front lawn in the 1960s, have been returned, including Cole’s hat and box and the family china. Other displays include period items like those that Cole and his wife may have owned.

A collection of paintings previously spread throughout the house has been brought together in the North Gallery. On one canvas, a massive honey locust tree standing several feet from the main entrance can be seen in its younger days in an 1868 painting by Charles Herbert Moore.

Against the opposite wall is a display case filled with Cole’s rock collection, a sketch book, and a slab of stone found in the storehouse bearing a drawing authenticated to be the work of the artist.

“It was a doorstop, found here in the late 1990s,” Jacks said. It was holding open a door in the storehouse, where a tenant had lived until then.

RENOVATIONS at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site will continue to follow a general management plan required by the National Park Service.

Jacks said the site is following the third of three alternative courses of action. “The first is to do nothing,” she said.

The next stage in the site development won’t reflect life as it was during Cole’s time but will include a modern visitors’ center in the balance of the barn that houses the Storehouse Studio.

“If someone gives us another half-million dollars, I’m ready to do it now,” said Jacks, who previously worked as marketing director at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

THE GRAND opening celebration for the Storehouse Studio will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 3 and is open to the public. Special exhibitions and presentations are planned.

The museum plans to regularly host temporary exhibits, such as a collection of work by Ralph Albert Blakelock, which is on display through Oct. 31.

For more information about Cedar Grove, visit the Web site

©Daily Freeman 2005 Originally found at

rootInside the artist’s studio: Cole’s work space being restored