Thomas Cole (1801–1848)
Hunters in a Landscape, 1824–1825
Oil on canvas, 28¼ × 35½ in.
Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Gift of Dr. Susan Gates Austin Warner , TC.2019.XXXX

In early works like this, probably inspired by Cole’s first hikes through the Catskill Mountains, the artist divides the landscape into distinct visual registers. In the background there is a lake and mountain range. In the foreground, two figures, each dressed in different clothing, perhaps hunters or hikers, meet on a carriage path. One of the most illuminated sections of the painting is a gnarled tree that has three trunks, each in a different stage of life. In Essay on American Scenery (1836), Cole writes:
“Trees are like men, differing widely in character; in sheltered spots, or under the influence of culture, they show few contrasting points; peculiarities are pruned and trained away, until there is a general resemblance. But in exposed situations, wild and uncultivated, battling with the elements and with one another for the possession of a morsel of soil, or a favoring rock to which they may cling—they exhibit striking peculiarities, and sometimes grand originality.”

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Brooke KrancerHunters in a Landscape